How Some of The Most Memorable Custom Signs Were Made

Since the evolution of commercial electric lighting, some now iconic signs have been ordered and constructed that have shaped the cultural image of the unique American landscape. This month, we highlight some of the most famous signs in the US, such as the “HOLLYWOOD” sign , “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, , and others that have made their mark on our collective consciousness. 


According to, “Harvey and Daeida Wilcox founded Hollywood in 1881 as a community for like-minded followers of the temperance movement.” While the origins of the name are unknown, the sign was erected as a real estate advertising tool, with a name slightly longer than the current sign: HOLLYWOODLAND. The sign, constructed in 1923, consisted of 45 foot high white block letters, anchored to telephone poles and illuminated by 4,000 incandescent light bulbs. Costing around $21,000, the equivalent of $250,000 today, the last four letters were removed in 1949 and the sign restored by the City of Los Angeles

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

Designed in 1959, by Betty Willis, the sign was commissioned at the request of local salesman, Ted Rogich, to represent the city of neon lights itself. Standing at 25 feet high, in the median of 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South, at the southern end of the Vegas Strip, the iconic sign features an architectural style, known as Googie, not Google, that blends elements of futurism, the Atomic Age, and car culture, a  style popular in the 40s and 50s. The back of the sign reads, “Drive Carefully, Come Back Soon,” sending visitors on their way.  Costing a mere $4000.00, Willis never copyrighted the sign, thinking of it as a gift to the city.

YESCO takes care of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign

Much of the original Welcome sign was rebuilt with sturdier materials in the factory at YESCO, who took ownership of the sign in 1964. The sign is leased to Clark County and maintained by YESCO on the county’s behalf. It is an icon of Las Vegas and proudly represents YESCO’s historical and current contributions to signs and lighting in Las Vegas and throughout the world.   Please see: for more information or if you have any questions about the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.[DJ1] 

The Fisherman’s Wharf Sign

Built in the shape of a ship's wheel with a red crab at the center, The Fisherman’s Wharf is not just iconic, it's also beautifully designed. Constructed of sheet metal, plywood, and plastic, lit with neon and incandescent lights, the original sign was installed in 1968, according to Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District CEO, Troy Campbell. Over the years, the original sign, subjected to corrosive salt water and wind, decayed, to the point that several groups agreed to replace the iconic sign with an almost identical sign made of more durable materials. The Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District helped pay for the $115,000 sign, along with the Fisherman's Wharf Merchants Association and the Port.

Brighter LED lights save on energy costs

The new sign, installed just before July 4, 2013, is constructed from rust-resistant aluminum and a high-density foam material that replaced the steel and plywood of the original sign. Replicating the plastic front and refurbishing the wooden handles, to retain the flavor of the original look, LED lights were installed to achieve a better quality and brighter light that uses less energy and requires less frequent maintenance than the original lights. Another landmark sign that defines the San Francisco skyline also got a much-needed makeover in 2020.

Ghirardelli Square Sign

As the SF Chronicle reported, “the sign was in a serious state of disrepair, with corroding metal and missing bulbs, and it needed to be pulled down for preservation and restoration work.” Originally erected in 1915, for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the Ghirardelli Square Sign was two-sided, with lit-up letters facing the waterfront and the upscale Russian Hill neighborhood. When the sign was first restored in 1964, the city-facing letters were removed due to complaints from Russian Hill residents. The reconstructed sign features LED lights and the ability to change colors, for the first time for holidays and special events. In the Midwest, another iconic sign has made appearances in many movies and TV shows.

Chicago Theatre Sign

Standing 18 meters tall, the Chicago Theatre sign has endured since the venue was built in 1921. A stunning example of Chicago’s Art Deco architecture, the sign symbolizes the city’s vibrant culture and entertainment industry. Featuring the words “Chicago Theatre” on a marquee-style background, boldly displayed in white letters, and illuminated by over 6,000 light bulbs. Stunning in both design and craftsmanship, the Chicago Theatre sign has remained basically unchanged since its installation in 1921. The theater is known for its rich history of top entertainers, such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Prince, and Jerry Seinfeld among others. The sign has undergone several renovations to retain its iconic status.

Times Square Sign

Located at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the Times Square sign consists of a vast 76 feet tall by 223 feet wide LED screen and displays advertisements and messages from some of the world’s biggest brands. The Times Square sign is one of the most valuable advertising spaces in the country. A symbol of New York’s brilliant culture and bustling energy that reflects the power of advertising in contemporary society, signage in Times Square continues to evolve with technology. In 2008, Ricoh installed the first solar powered sign, with four wind turbines and 45 solar panels. Measuring over 9,000 square feet, the LCD NASDAQ sign is the largest continuous sign in Times Square. Just a few blocks away, another iconic symbol of the entertainment world shines bright and steady.

Radio City Music Hall

Opening in 1932, Radio City Music Hall cost approximately $8 million to construct, funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and theatrical genius S. L. "Roxy" Rothafel. Along with the exquisite exterior of ripple-finished gray Indiana limestone, decorated with vertical aluminum spandrels, The Radio City Music Hall’s sign lights up the corner of 50th Street and Sixth Avenue with a 50,000 lb. stainless steel and 40,000 lb. aluminum combined marquee. Wrapping around the corner, the sign extends down the entire block. The Art Deco sign consists of somewhere around six miles of red and blue neon powered by 599 transformers. In March 1999, the Broadway National Sign Company renovated the famous marquee, restoring all the neon in the horizontal signage and the 96 ft vertical marquee. 

Tower Records Sacramento

Depicting teens dancing on top of a record, with the dancers’ legs moving back and forth , in time with flashing music bars, the iconic "Dancing Kids" sign was designed in 1949 by Zeon Electrical Products Corporation, for Clayton and Russ Solomon, who founded the legendary Tower Records. The city of Sacramento made an exception to its ordinance that outlawed animated signs for this well-loved neon sign.

Varsity Drive-In Sign

Located near the Georgia Tech campus, this iconic sign has been a fixture in Atlanta since 1928 and features the restaurant’s name in bold red on a white background. An indelible example of mid-century Americana, with its bright red color and bold lettering style, the Varsity Drive-in sign’s retro message reminds visitors of a simpler time, when people went to drive-ins looking for some fun and good food. 

These and other iconic electric signs are landmarks that tourists love to visit, and residents love to boast about. For help with your next iconic electric sign, contact YESCO!

Note that YESCO does not claim to have sold, designed, engineered, installed, or manufactured any of the signs mentioned above.

Lighting Retrofits – How to Reduce Your Business’s Energy Costs

When you’re considering signage upgrades or sign repairs for your business, did you know you can save a considerable amount of money and improve your energy efficiency by upgrading your business’s lighting, as well? While upgrading your lighting can present a major investment, “retrofitting” or “converting” your current lighting to LED can offset a considerable portion of a lighting upgrade, by using existing lighting fixtures in your commercial buildings.

LEDs in process of dominating lighting market

Light Emitting Diodes, which is what gives LED lighting fixtures their light, are used in nearly every electronic device on the market today. The dominance of LEDs for industrial applications is driven by several factors, including:

  • Compact size
  • Energy efficiency
  • Minimized maintenance
  • Quality of light

LED Retrofitting

Did you know lighting accounts for 17%-25% of all electricity consumed in U.S. commercial buildings. In an increasingly energy-conscious world, retrofitting your commercial lighting is gaining traction as a popular option in upgrading many aspects of your business to make your lighting more energy efficient. LED retrofits essentially use existing fixtures, including: CFL, fluorescent, incandescent, and others to convert to LED lighting. While using your existing fixtures to convert your commercial lighting to LED is the goal of retrofitting,  in some cases the existing fixtures won’t work or aren’t practical for retrofitting. New fixtures may be required in some areas, but businesses still save a significant amount of money, by replacing only the fixtures that aren’t possible or practical to retrofit with LED lighting.

Benefits of Retrofitting

Retrofitting not only saves your business money on lighting  fixtures, it reduces your energy costs, increases productivity, and keeps your staff safe. For example, retrofitting existing fixtures with LED lighting:

  • Increases ROI
  • Save energy costs
  • Increases lighting levels
  • Loonger-lasting lights
  • Reduces mercury levels and gives you a greener footprint
  • Removes tons of CO2 from the air
  • Reduces operating expenses

Also, according to, “By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could reduce our nation’s electricity use equal to the annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants, and lead to total savings of more than $30 billion.”

Reducing Energy Costs

Drastically reducing energy costs by 80% over a year, in comparison to traditional incandescent and fluorescent lighting , as mentioned before, provides the primary motivation for businesses to convert their facilities to LED lighting. Given that around 90% of a commercial building’s total lifetime costs, including the initial cost of the building, is determined by operating expenses, and the largest portion is relegated to energy costs from lighting, LED lighting is a game changer.

Reducing Maintenance Costs

Another factor contributing to the benefits of retrofitting your business with LED lighting revolves around the fact that LED lighting offers exponentially longer operating lifespans than traditional lighting, with far less parts replacement and labor hours required to maintain LED lighting.

Improving Lighting Quality

Indirectly related to energy savings, LED retrofitting will increase the quality of lighting in your commercial buildings. LED lighting ranks 90 on a scale of 0-100, with grayscale on the low end at 0 and natural light on the high end at 100 on the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Light that measures a 90 or above is considered excellent. Better quality of light increases the visual appeal of warehouses and industrial facilities, which acts to increase the general quality of life for personnel, customers, and others in commercial facilities.

Increasing Safety

Improved quality of light can also increase production and the quality of production, as improved visibility will positively impact production levels. Additionally, unlike traditional lighting sources, you can select color temperatures of LED lighting to match your business’s environment. Color temperature, measured in Kelvin (K), on a scale of approximately 1500k to 8000k refers to the “glow” of light. When the Kelvin temperature is lower, you’ll see a higher concentration of red in the color of the light, whereas it will appear bluer when the Kelvin temperature is higher. Sunlight typically measures 5000k, reaching 6500k depending on cloud cover. The color temperature selected for your business environments are based on the work performed in particular facilities. offers a general lighting guide for business applications:

  • 4600K-6500K gives off a bright amount of blue-white light, similar to that of daylight; best for display areas and work environments where very bright illumination is needed.
  • 6500K and up gives off a bright bluish hue of light, often found in commercial locations; best for task lighting.

Other Considerations

Some other things to consider when planning your LED retrofit include:

  • Possible limitations of options available for existing fixtures. While multiple configurations are offered for most commercial LED lighting applications, sometimes the lighting you need in one area may require a different fixture than the existing one to achieve your goal.
  • Dimmer switches and other controls configured for traditional lighting will not function with LED lighting. In order to keep the dimmer function of your LED lighting, you will need to change your existing dimmer switches to LED specific switches.
  • Check into LED utility rebates and incentives offered by utility companies and other energy efficiency program sponsors to promote ENERGY STAR products throughout the US. Along with certified bulbs and fixtures, decorative light strings, plus ceiling and ventilating fans with light kits, many of these programs are specifically geared for commercial building applications and can add up to $249 in savings for LED light fixtures.
  • Contact a reputable lighting contractor to provide expert advice and guide you through the retrofitting process

Yesco to the Rescue

Take the guesswork out of retrofitting your lighting. Experts in exterior and interior signage and turnkey lighting retrofitting solutions, our knowledgeable and experienced lighting team provides a comprehensive approach to your lighting requirements. We will show you how you can reduce your energy costs and operating expenses, as well as helping you qualify for applicable energy rebates. We can show you how YESCO’s multiple financing options can make your retrofit project a cash positive situation.

The key benefits of YESCO’s lighting retrofit include:

  • Turnkey project management, from product specification to installation, we handle your project from start to finish.
  • Enhance your facility’s appearance and your production metrics, while saving money.
  • Payback analysis including maintenance, energy savings, and rebate analysis.
  • Extended warranty programs.
  • Multiple financing options available.

We’re ready to turn on the savings and help your business shine brighter with energy-efficient lighting. Contact YESCO for your LED retrofit!

YESCO Announces Passing of Board Chairman Thomas Young Jr
Pictured: Thomas Young Jr

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YESCO announces the passing of board chairman, Thomas Young Jr on June 30 , 2023.

“It is with a heavy heart we announce the passing of my father and YESCO board chairman Thomas Young Jr.,” said Michael T. Young, executive chairman, YESCO. “My father lived a full life dedicated to serving not only his family but also his community. The Young family is committed to upholding and honoring his extraordinary legacy of service at YESCO and beyond.”

Thomas Young Jr. was the son of Elmina and Thomas Young Sr. Following Thomas Young Sr. founding YESCO in 1920 in Ogden, Utah, Thomas Young Jr. joined the company in 1942 at the age of 14. He was a servant leader and guided YESCO through years of incredible technology and innovation. As a giant in the sign industry, Thomas Young Jr. was appointed president of the company in 1969 and became board chairman in 1988.

With 65 years of service in the Salt Lake City Rotary Club, Thomas Young Jr. was honored as a second-generation Rotarian following his father’s participation in the chapter throughout his career. With a passion for community service, he and his wife Dwan Young received the 2022 Summit Award from the club. The Summit Award was established in 2020 to recognize long-time members of the Salt Lake City Rotary Club 24 who demonstrated the Rotary motto of “service above self” and have made significant contributions to both the club and the community. 

“We salute Thomas Young Jr. for his unparalleled role in creating the culture of service and excellence YESCO maintains today,” said Jeff Young, executive vice president. “We will miss him dearly, but his extraordinary example of professional and personal achievement will inspire every team member for many years to come.”