SEATTLE — A series of vintage signs photographed on Aurora Avenue recently gained attention on a popular Internet forum, as the photos hearkened back to the days of long family car trips and polished Pontiac GTOs.
User “Grady Tripp” posted his “Vintage signs along Aurora Avenue/Highway 99” series to Tumblr and Reddit Tuesday. He said he was drawn to the series as a way to capture part of Seattle’s not-so-recent past.
From “Grady Tripp:”
Aurora Avenue. Before it became one of the most maligned roads in Seattle–full of cheap motels, prostitutes, fast food restaurants and car dealerships—Highway 99 was the main arterial for automobile travel through Seattle. From the 1920’s through the 1960’s, as Seattle’s car culture grew, this main road quickly became the “Route 66” of our area during an era when cars and highways held the promise of adventure. Roadside motels, bars and restaurants sprang up along the corridor, catering to these new travelers. Even more popped up during the 1960s to accommodate visitors to the World’s Fair. But something is always needed when businesses need to lure in potential customers…signs! And ever since I’ve lived here I have been visually drawn towards these old visual artifacts. Buried amongst all the dollar store, fast food and used car dealer signs are some true hidden gems from decades ago. And this is what I attempted to uncover in the following photos. I looked for both the kitschy as well as the gritty…from bowling alleys to old taverns that look like something out of a Bukowski novel. There are taverns that some of our grandparents probably drank at, a greasy spoon or two that most of us have eaten at, and various motels that Kurt Cobain himself famously frequented. A couple of the signs are newer but most bear the patina from an era that no longer exists. I hope you enjoy as I feel these represent an important part of Seattle’s storied past!
The series features the timeless signs of the Klose-In Motel, Beth’s Cafe and Darrell’s Tavern.
Fellow Reddit users enjoyed the series, as it garnered more than 600 upvotes.
“Living just off of 99 I see some of these signs regularly but rarely give them a second thought,” one user wrote. “This has given me a new appreciation for them. Good work, thanks for sharing.”