The city of Casa Grande, named after the Hohokam ruins nearby, has a long and colorful history. Founded in 1879 during Arizona’s mining boom, the town transitioned to an agricultural community in the 1890s when the mining boom slowed. The change helped Casa Grande avoid the dismal fate of many other boom towns in the western U.S.
The Casa Grande Neon Sign Park consists of vintage signs saved and collected from the surrounding area over the years, resulting in a collection that reflects local history. The exception is the Dairy Queen “lips” sign, which was relocated from its home on Route 66 in Holbrook, but is the same style as local DQ signage of the period.
Several of the signs required extensive restoration, including the Arizona Edison sign, which was missing the neon, and the Goddard Shoe Store sign, whose goose was missing its head. Paul the Waver, standing by the sign for the Horse Shoe Motel, is a reproduction based on a mid-century photograph. The light behind his waving arm indicated when the motel had vacancies.
Accompanying the signs are bronze story plaques in the shape of the State of Arizona with a green patina background representing the city’s copper mining heritage. There are also custom pedestals incorporating “Pueblo Deco” symbols, a hybrid architectural style popular in the Southwest. The park is accented with vintage license plates and benches made out of tailgates.
Casa Grande came in second place in an American Express Partners in Preservation program competition and received $144,000 toward the project. It is located in Historic Downtown Casa Grande at the site of Casa Grande’s first school, Central School, which was built in 1917 and torn down in 1974.
Know Before You Go
Signs are lit up nightly from dusk until 11:00 PM.