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Bright Lights

Our A-list of the coolest neon signs in town.



Fans of great neon signs still lament the loss of some real beauties here: Weakley Equipment Sales on Marshall, depicting a man pushing a rotary mower, neon grass clippings just a-flying; Hart's Bakery on Summer, with its throbbing neon hearts; the 12-foot-high flashing Coca-Cola sign that once illuminated the corner of Park and Highland; and the fantastic sign for the old Jack Pirtle Fried Chicken on Poplar near Cleveland, with a line of neon chickens springing off a diving board into a vat of steaming grease, filled to overflowing with drumsticks.

Those are long gone, and we're concerned about the fate of two of the best (and biggest) neon signs in town: the giant spinning record with dancing music notes at the now-closed Pop Tunes on Summer, and just down the street, the big white skating boot with the revolving red wheels atop Skateland.

Even so, Memphis still has plenty of dazzling signs -- at least a dozen great ones on Beale Street alone -- and on this page we offer you our "A- List" of the nicest neon in town.

Joe's Liquors 1681 Poplar


This is still our personal favorite -- first lighted in the late 1950s and still whirling and twirling after a 1999 restoration.

Leonard's Barbecue 5465 Fox Plaza


The new location took the old sign from the original Leonard's on Bellevue. "Mr. Brown" is still "going to town" though he no longer twirls his cane.

Dyer's Burgers 205 Beale


Here's a retro design for a new location for this 1912 burger joint, with the giant letters slowly spelling out D-Y-E-R-'S.

Park Cosmorama Park and White Station


"Cosmorama" (complete with whirling globe) is the 1990s name for this 1950s shopping center.

Walker Radiator 694 Marshall


That leaky radiator has finally stopped dripping, but this is still one of the best (and brightest) signs in town.

Sun Studio 706 Union


Simple but iconic. Perhaps the most famous neon sign in the Mid-South.

Gibson's Donuts 760 Mt. Moriah


A neon donut is cool enough, but a spinning one is hard to resist.

Happy Day Cleaners 1649 Union


Who knew a simple thing like a shirt could make such a great sign?

Blues City Cafe 138 Beale


Beale has plenty of great neon, but the flashing red forks caught our eye.

Malco Majestic 7051 Malco Crossing


Miles of pink and blue neon remind us of the old-time movie palaces.

Rum Boogie Cafe 182 Beale


As if it needed one more bit of brightness, a musical note dances across the top of all this.

Epic Salon 712 S. Mendenhall


The snazziest sign of any hair salon in town. Too bad the scissors don't snip.

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