Signs and Wonders is a richly detailed history of the giant animated signs known as "spectaculars," the evolution of which has mirrored the evolution of American commerce and society throughout the twentieth century. Although the book concentrates on Times Square, now as ever the spectacular's principal gallery, readers may be surprised to learn that the spectacular once flourished in every American city across the land.
The blazing images portrayed in these signs are far richer and more complex than they appear to be, for they embody the soul of commercial culture. At the core they are the means by which corporations over the decades have talked to America and conveyed the messages that have helped to shape our daily lives. In large measure they pioneered the electronic communications revolution now taking place all around us.
Coauthored by the third-generation owner of Artkraft Strauss, the century-old company that built most of Times Square's landmark displays, Signs and Wonders follows the evolution of the spectacular decade by decade, revealing the signs' importance as both social and technological milestones. Culled from the reminiscences of scores of eyewitnesses, fleshed out with extensive archival research, and illustrated with dozens of historic photographs, the book reveals how the mighty supersigns came to be, and tells the fascinating stories of the promoters, con men, and geniuses who fashioned color and light, electricity and information, into icons.
Chronicling this thrilling, little-known segment of history, Signs and Wonders is a stirring celebration of the American imagination.