Friday, December 30, 2011


The Hi-View Restaurant in Villa Park, Illinois. I believe the restaurant has been remodeled a couple of times, but it still has this excellent old school neon slab out front.

Bright and night views provided. See you next year!

Hi-View Restaurant-Villa Park, IL

PS: I just noticed the little coachlight up top!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


130 by William 74
130, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

A ghost sign in downtown Nashville. There are quite a few ghost signs around town-Nashville has a pleasantly small town feel in places. This one caught my eye because it's right next to the Shelby Avenue Bridge, which crosses the Columbia River. It's pretty obvious that it was meant to be seen by travelers on the bridge, and that the wood door was for loading freight onto the second floor.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Fabulous Hudson Hornet

Doc Hudson #2 by William 74
Doc Hudson #2, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Hudson's Hornet was a revolutionary design in the early postwar years, featuring a "step down" design wherein the floorpans were dropped, allowing for the lower roof line that was the car's hallmark. It also allowed a lower center of gravity, which proved to be a bonus on the racetrack, and the Fabulous Hudson Hornet became a force to be reckoned with on the stock car circuit.

Unfortunately, this unique feature would also prove to be the car's downfall. When Hudson became part of American Motors Corporation, the step-down design proved to be difficult to update, and by the mid fifties the Hornet was definitely looking a bit old fashioned. After 1955, Hornets would be based on senior Nash models.

This one's about a '52, and features the Twin-H Power dual-carb engine, the one that made the Hornet's name on the tracks.

Doc Hudson

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa's Village

Santa's Village-Dundee, IL by William 74
Santa's Village-Dundee, IL, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Santa's Village Is a Christmas-themed amusement park in Dundee, Illinois. Opened in 1959, the Dundee location was the third one built (the other two being in California), and was intended to be the hub of a chain of parks. However, no further Villages were built, the other two eventually closed, and the Dundee location became the last of it's kind.

The park featured rides, a petting zoo, access to a water park, and the Polar Dome, an ice skating rink. Popular locally for decades, but declining attendance and other issues caused the park's closure in 2006. It remained so until 2011, when new owners cleaned everything up and reopened some of the attractions.

I shot this in 2010, before the lights and sign were restored to working order.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Leviathan by William 74
Leviathan, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Always a popular draw, steam locomotives are still a rare enough sighting in the United States that they draw a crowd wherever they go. Leviathan is a replica of a Schenectady Locomotive Works engine, built in 1868 for the Central Pacific Railroad. Leviathan was built entirely from scratch by the Kloke Locomotive Works of Elgin, Illinois.

It is a truly beautiful machine. Every detail is absolutely perfect, and the Leviathan is fully functional. It appeared at the Illinois Railway Museum this past summer, and I was fortunate enough to ride behind it for a short trip on the museum's main line. Fun, and possibly a unique experience for me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

SHerwood 2-2296

SHerwood 2-2296 by William 74
SHerwood 2-2296, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

I love finding alphanumeric phone numbers still in situ. They turn up all over the place sometimes-old business cards or matchbooks, old ashtrays, old signs, old boxes and sometimes, old trucks.

Pleasantly, this truck hasn't strayed too far from it's home in Elgin, either.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Motel

Holiday Motel by William 74
Holiday Motel, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Old motels have some of the best vintage neon. This classic, Googie-tastic piece of the glassbender's art is in Wisconsin Dells.

I wish it had been sunnier when I shot this. I'll have to go back in the spring, and maybe see if I can get it at night too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

National Tea

National Tea by William 74
National Tea, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Cool tile entryway in Rochelle, Illinois. I'm pleased that it's still around-plenty of terrazzo entryways survive, bit tile breaks so easily that they're a bit rarer. Plus, they're usually just a tile pattern, rather than a logo like this one.

I can't remember what's in this storefront now but it's not a National Tea.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Chevy by William 74
Chevy, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

This is my uncle (well, great-uncle) Rodney's '50 Chevrolet. I hadn't seen it in years-he's getting on in years and it's harder for him to drive it these days-but he brought it out on Thanksgiving. I thought it was an excellent TtV subject.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blast Off

Jet and rocket imagery was everywhere in the atomic fifties, and few companies took to it as much as General Motors. For a while their cars had rockets and swept wing jets everywhere, especially at the front. This one's an Oldsmobile Rocket 88. I totally dig the contrails molded into the sheet metal of the hood. You don't see that level of detail anymore.

Oldsmobile Rocket 88 #2

Olds got an extra rocket at the back, too.

Oldsmobile Rocket 88 #3

This sporty number's off a Pontiac

Blast Off! #2

This one's a Buick, I think. It also looks more like a torpedo, but whatever.

The Pointy End

And finally, a tribute to Northrop's flying wings, courtesy of Pontiac.

Blast Off! #3

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jack's Bar-B-Que

Jack's Bar-B-Que by William 74
Jack's Bar-B-Que, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Another Nashville shot. You can see how tightly packed things are along Broadway-I also got a nice shot of the Stage's sign (it's the best shot of it I have, in fact).

This is also as close as I got to getting more than one pig lit up at once-the wing of the middle piggy is still aglow. It's just too busy along Broadway to set up a tripod for night work.

Flyin' Pig

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Trike by William 74
Trike, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I found this at an abandoned farm in Wisconsin. I'd last visited a couple of years ago, and the main barn was in a perilous state. It's since mostly collapsed, but much of the site remains the same.

I don't remember if this old tricycle was there last time.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Studie by William 74
Studie, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I've always had a soft spot for the bullet-nosed Studebaker Champion models. I like their unique styling and underdog status, but I'm pretty sure it's mostly because Fozzie Bear drove one in The Muppet Movie.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Betty Boots

Betty Boots by William 74
Betty Boots, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Huge neon sign for a boot store in downtown Nashville. Lots of detail on this one, it's pretty impressive in person.

I just like it cause it's so intricate. Yeah, that's it. Intricate.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Associated Salvage Company

Associated Salvage Company by William 74
Associated Salvage Company, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Ghost sign on a side street just off of Broadway in Nashville. This building has a nice collection of ghost signage as well-the inside appears to be under renovation. I think it'd make an awesome gallery or studio.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Little Joe

Little Joe by William 74
Little Joe, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Originally built by General Electric for export to the Soviet Union, the EF-4 "Little Joe" was one of the most famous electric locomotives to appear on American rails. After sales to Russia were prohibited in the late 40's, the Joes languished at GE's facility until the Milwaukee Road started to show interest in them for it's electrified Rocky Mountain Division. The Milwaukee used them in both passenger and freight service, up until the end of electric service in the seventies.

Other users of Little Joes included Brazil's national railway (which received five of them), and the Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend, which got three of them. This survivor is one of the South Shore's, and is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Teef by William 74
Teef, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
When they say cars have "faces", this is what they're talking about. And this one's smilin'!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Bridge by William 74
Bridge, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
I genuinely don't know where I took this. Somewhere in very southern Illinois, or northern Kentucky.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Master Mix Feeds

Master Mix Feeds by William 74
Master Mix Feeds, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
A classically grungy image for this week's Through the Viewfinder Tuesday. This is the abandoned grain elevator in tiny Arlington, Illinois. A very interesting structure, full of interesting textures and signage.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Race on Sunday, sell on Monday

Super Stock by William 74
Super Stock, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Super Stock drag racing got it's start in the early sixties, and was a very popular class for about a decade, mainly because the cars were the same as the ones you could buy at your local dealer. Sort of.

Factory SS cars were in fact available from the dealership, but they were usually special order only and frequently were stripped out base models. The Plymouth Belvedere pictured here had thin van seats (they were lighter than a bench), no back seat (it's heavy), no heater or air conditioning (it's heavy), no radio (it's not heavy but you can't hear it over the engine anyway), no sound deadening (it's heavy), and no hubcaps (because you're likely to get rid of the wheels anyway). In short, they weren't nice places to be for more than a quarter mile at a time. Modifications were few, and limited mostly to safety equipment.

I have no idea if this Plymouth was a genuine Super Stock car back in the day, but it was very convincing if it's a clone. Everything was correct, and it looked and sounded great.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The National Underground

The National Underground by William 74
The National Underground, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Another Nash-classic. I don't think this is an especially old sign, but it's shaped like a National guitar, and that makes it really damn cool.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Fairlane by William 74
Fairlane, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.
Or maybe "not so Fairlane". We've seen this car before-I just noticed that yesterday's Rambler is reflected in the Ford.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ramble On

Rambler American by William 74
Rambler American, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Famous for being a car that goes very fast in second gear*, the Nash Rambler was a popular car in the compact segment. Sold under both the Nash and Hudson names, the model was discontinued in 1955, the new car featured modified Nash "Airflyte" styling, to better integrate with senior Nash models. This, in combination with economical engines and a low price, helped the Rambler to be the first really popular American compact car, and it remained in production until 1955, not long after the formation of American Motors Corporation.

In 1957, AMC was in need of a compact car, something to slot in between the tiny two seat Metropolitan and the larger family sized Rambler Six. Fortunately, AMC had retained the previous model's tooling and it was a fairly simple job to update the styling. The "new" car made it's debut in 1958 as the Rambler American.

The American was well reviewed, praised for it's low price and economy, and proved to be a popular car throughout it's three year lifespan. In 1961, all new styling appeared, ending the Rambler's visual links to earlier "Airflyte" Nashes.

*a reference to the Playmate's 1958 song "Beep Beep".

Friday, November 11, 2011

Advertising without posters is like fishing without worms

Hatch Show Print by William 74
Hatch Show Print, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Founded in 1879 by brothers Charles and Herbert Hatch, Hatch Show Print is quite possibly one of the most famous print shops in the world. Their first print job was for an appearance by the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, brother of abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Orders poured in soon after, and the Hatch brothers' work began to appear on buildings all over the south. The brothers printed posters for all kinds of events and businesses, and created some iconic images. The Hatch Show Print style is recognized all over the world, and the shop is still in business today, doing concert posters, handbills, reprints of some classics, and custom print jobs. It's a really neat place, and well worth a visit if you're in Nashville.

Oh, and they have this awesome neon sign out front!

Hatch Show Print

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Times

The Times by William 74
The Times, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Old school sign for the Ottawa Times newspaper. The whole building has a very old fashioned, Daily Flash vibe to it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chevy Truck

Chevy by William 74
Chevy, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

A 1940's Chevrolet one ton truck, that has, as far as I can tell, been in the same ownership since it was new. One of several vehicles on this property, all disused and all going to ground.

Friday, November 4, 2011

J.E. Brady

J.E. Brady by William 74
J.E. Brady, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

This week's Neon Friday post is a bit of a mystery. This simple sign is in the town of Pontiac, Illinois, along old Route 66. I've been through Pontiac a couple of times, but this was the first time I noticed this particular sign. It's kind of hard to see-there's a metal awning just below it (those are the awning's supports you see in front of the sign), so you can't really see it unless you're across the street.

I have no idea who J.E. Brady was, or what J.E. Brady did. The building has a martial arts academy in the storefront now. This sign looks to be in really good shape-the glass is intact and it's not especially rusty. I wonder if it still works, and have this odd fantasy that it's on a timer and still lights up every night at 6 pm.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marathon Motor Cars

Marathon Motor Cars by William 74
Marathon Motor Cars, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Having grown out of the Southern Engine and Boiler Works of Jackson, Marathon Motor Cars were built in Nashville, Tennessee for just four years, between 1910 and 1914. Then as now, it was common for auto manufacturers to buy in parts and assemblies, but Southern chose to engineer and make everything in-house.

Initially badged as Southerns, the company changed the name to Marathon and moved to a new factory in Nashville. The cars were well regarded-probably because of the total control the company had over it's engineering-and demand soon outstripped supply. However, like so many other early auto manufacturers, management didn't keep up with engineering, and within a few years the company ceased automobile production.

The factory complex on Clinton Street in Nashville still stands, and has been partially converted to retail and gallery space. In addition to some old signwriting, some old logos have been lovingly recreated on the factory walls, including this beauty.

Marathon Motor Cars

Monday, October 31, 2011


Fading Glory by William 74
Fading Glory, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

A 1952 or 3 Packard sedan. I think it's a 300 or maybe a Patrician, but there were no badges to suggest this. It was sporting an Ultramatic automatic transmission, though.

I found this car in a tiny rural town in Illinois, parked in front of a rundown repair shop amidst a complex of grain silos. I don't know how long it sat there but I went by a few weeks later and it was gone. I've said it before, it's best to just stop and look when you get the chance.


Friday, October 28, 2011

The Berghoff

The Berghoff

Chicago's historic Berghoff restaurant closed in 2006, after 107 years of being in business. A classic German restaurant, the Berghoff brewed it's own beer (which is still available and is pretty good), and was granted liquor license #1 when Prohibition was repealed.

The restaurant's basement cafe reopened a year later, owned and run by the owners' daughter, and the upstairs dining room converted to a private banquet hall. In 2007, the Berghoff reopened, continuing a Chicago tradition.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Nashville by William 74
Nashville, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Nashville, as seen from the historic Shelby Avenue Bridge.

I like this shot, even though it doesn't show the AT&T building's distinctive silhouette. It has it all-newer, modern buildings (the AT&T and the Bridgestone Arena), as well as the classic 1957 vintage Life and Casualty Building (with it's neon "L&C" sign on the top.) But, you can also see a corner of historic Broadway, and the vintage storefronts along 1st Avenue North. It represents both sides of Nashville's personality-the modern, efficient city of tomorrow and the rowdy, countrified town of yesterday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sprague's Super Service

Sprague's  by William 74
Sprague's , a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Opened in 1931, Sprague's Super Service was a large gas station and cafe along Route 66, on what was then the outskirts of Normal, Illinois. It housed several different restaurants and stations, and was used until 1976. This old sign is the only one that remains, although the building is still in very nice condition.

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, there are hopes that this Route 66 classic can be reopened.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Edsel by William 74
Edsel, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Ford's Edsel was meant to be a separate, all new brand to compete with GM's midpriced Oldsmobile and Chrysler's DeSoto. It was a spectacular failure. Popular belief is that the car's styling-mostly conventional but with that unusual vertical grille up front-did the Edsel in, along with it's weird name. In reality, it was a combination of things, including poor build quality, pricing that didn't quite slot between Ford and Mercury, and marketing that promised more than the cars delivered. In addition, a recession in 1957 and '58 hampered sales of midpriced cars-Studebaker eliminated the Packard brand, AMC focused on economy cars instead of larger Nashes, and Chrysler saw sales of it's DeSoto brand fall drastically. The Edsel didn't have much of a chance, and was gone within three years.

That said, I've always kinda liked the Edsel. Stylewise, I think it compares favorably with most other American cars of the period. This one's a '58, and I believe it's an unrestored example as well.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Oasis

Oasis Drive-In by William 74
Oasis Drive-In, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Located on the outskirts of Lexington, Illinois, is the remains of the Oasis Drive-In. Literally by the side of Route 66, it was a popular burger joint for decades.

The building is still standing, and is in pretty decent shape, although I have no idea what it's used for. The old canopy provides cover for a few old cars, and the old sign is still there, missing letters and all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kitchen Made Pies

Kitchen Made Pies by William 74
Kitchen Made Pies, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

Vintage trailer from the Kitchen Made Pies company. Best I can tell, this was a regional bakery from the 50's through to the 80's, at which point the company went out of business. A friend of mine came up with a bunch of mentions of this firm in various business case studies, so whatever they did it must have been noteworthy, at least at the time.

I would guess this trailer is from the sixties-it has that really old look to it. Spotted in the town of Towanda, Illinois, along old Route 66.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Burlington by William 74
Burlington, a photo by William 74 on Flickr.

A classic Baldwin 4-6-4 steam locomotive, built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Dating from 1930, this big boy served with the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy.

I like this shot. It really has that analogue, TtV look to it, and encapsulates everything I like about this technique.