San Antonio’s golden age of neon lights survives but barely

San Antonio has long had an impressive collection of commercial neon signs promoting office buildings, bars, tattoo parlors and other businesses. Unfortunately, many of the most fondly remembered signs have fallen to the wrecking ball and redevelopment.

Here’s a selection of some classic neon signs that still light up the night. Catch them while you can.

Aztec Theater

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff photographer

Aztec Theater

Built in 1926, the theater’s Meso-American decor extends to its impressive marquee with its hints of Aztec art. 104 N. St. Mary’s St.

Bun 'N' Barrel

Bun ‘N’ Barrel

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff photographer

Bun ‘N’ Barrel

This classic drive-in barbecue joint has operated on Austin Highway since 1950. Below the massive red and white main sign, smaller signage read “Shakes & Floats.” 1150 Austin Highway

Charline McCombs Empire Theater

Charline McCombs Empire Theater

Charline McCombs Empire Theater

The performing arts venue dates from 1913 and was restored in 1998. The theater’s unusual vertical marquee sports neon lights in red, green, yellow and pink. 226 N. St Mary’s St.

The Crockett Hotel

The Crockett Hotel

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff photographer

Crockett Hotel

Opened in 1909 just behind the Alamo, the hotel name shines into the night from atop the seven-story structure in massive green neon letters. 320 Bonham

The Esquire Tavern

The Esquire Tavern

JERRY LARA, STAFF / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

The Esquire Tavern

The downtown bar’s scripted neon signage is as much a landmark as its wooden bar, said to be the longest in Texas. 155 E. Commerce St.

Josephine Street Cafe

Josephine Street Cafe

Josephine Street

Three cool blue neon signs, one with the restaurant’s name, the others reading “Whiskey” and “Steaks” greet patrons to this classic Texas restaurant like a warm hug. 400 E. Josephine St.

The Majestic Theater

The Majestic Theater

Majestic Theater

As the theater’s name suggests, this massive marquee overlooking Houston street is perhaps the city’s most impressive example of the art of the neon sign. 224 E. Houston St.

Mobile Pegasus at Broadway and Austin Highway

Mobile Pegasus at Broadway and Austin Highway

Mobile Pegasus

Surveying the intersection of Broadway and Austin Highway, the sign once reigned over a Mobil gas station. The station is long gone, and the building below has housed various businesses, but the proud winged horse still flies. 100 Austin Highway

Mission Drive-In

Mission Drive-In

Mission Drive-In

Long a South Side landmark (and now known as Mission Marquee Plaza), the drive-in theater’s original back-of-the-screen signage, which fell into disrepair, was restored and updated in 2013. 3100 Roosevelt Ave.

Rollercade

Rollercade

EDWARD A. ORNELAS, STAFF / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

The Rollercade

Rollin ‘rollin’ rollin ‘for 70 or so years, the popular skating rink added this playful outdoor sign, designed by artist Lionel Sosa, in 1958. 223 Recoleta Road

San Antonio Light building

San Antonio Light building

San Antonio Light building

The original sign has been replaced by a smaller version to denote the recently renovated office building. But its memory still lights up Broadway. 420 Broadway

Tucker's Kozy Korner

Tucker’s Kozy Korner

JIM BEAL JR., STAFF / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Tucker’s Kozy Korner

An East Side institution since it opened as a Black music club in 1948, Tucker’s has been operated by a series of tenants in recent years. With not one but two arrows, the red and white neon sign points the way to a good time. 1338 E. Houston St.

The VFW Post 76

The VFW Post 76

JOHN DAVENPORT, STAFF / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

VFW Post 760

The red neon sign over the entrance to this historic site located on the Museum Reach proudly proclaims its status as the oldest post in Texas. 10 10th St.

Walgreen Drugs

Walgreen Drugs

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff photographer

Walgreen Drugs

The classic neon sign is a welcome sight to tourists and downtown workers in need of a little medicinal care. 300 E. Houston St.

rmarini@express-news.net | Twitter: @RichardMarini

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