Local History Advent Calendar 2018 – Day 15 – Vancouver: neon city

When I am researching one topic I often come across random historical tidbits that I think might be interesting to research one day.  These tidbits sometimes end up as full-fledged stories and sometimes they just stay as random historical tidbits.  I have collected quite a few, so I thought it might be fun to present them in the form of “treats” for a local history advent calendar. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Vancouver history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

Day 15: Vancouver: bright lights, neon city

The Granville strip in 1958. Photo: CoV Archives, CVA 672-1

Many of us know about Vancouver’s neon past, but here are a few “neon stats & facts” for you to casually drop into your next conversation about neon in Vancouver:

  • Famed Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh once called Vancouver’s Granville strip the “brightest street in Canada”;
  • By 1953, Vancouver had over 18,000 neon signs – one neon sign for every 19 Vancouverites (pop. 345,000);
  • and 7 neon companies to service them;
  • At the peak of Vancouver’s neon period, businesses were spending $2 million dollars per year on neon signs;
  • Most of the neon signs were not owned, but rented.


Neon sign in the MOV. Photo: C. Hagemoen


Source: Vancouver Sun – August 1, 1953.


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