American Neon
American Neon Light & Sign Corp., 689 6th Ave. between 36th & 37th Sts. (2007)

The American Neon Light & Sign Corp. was a short-lived enterprise organized by Otto B. Shulhof to manufacture "neon beacon lights for airplanes" (New York Times, 28 June 1927, p. 3). One of the prominent members of the firm's board of directors was A. E. Lefcourt, who leased an entire floor here in the Lefcourt Empire Building at 989 6th Ave. for showrooms and salesrooms (New York Times, 26 June 1927, p. E10). Space was leased here for about a year (1927-1928). A factory was located uptown at 549 W. 132nd St. In 1928 the corporate name was changed to American Neon Light Corp. Apparently the neon sign division was split off into a separate division of the company called Neon Tube Sign Corp. By 1930 the company was in bankruptcy. Numerous lawsuits involving patent infringements and stock fraud were reported in the Times around this time.

Otto Bernard Shulhof (1872-1940) was born in Bohemia and immigrated to the U. S. in 1882 (according to the U. S. Census 1910). His obituary in the New York Times (5 Jan. 1940, p. 23) gives the following details: "Mr. Shulhof came to this country as a youth and entered the fur business and dress manufacturing industry. He was president of the Associated Dress Industries of America in 1919, and two years later had his own dress manufacturing firm at 136 Madison Avenue... In 1922, with letters from President Harding and former Governor Alfred E. Smith, Mr. Shulhof went to Russia to contract for the Soviet Government's supply of fur skins in behalf of the Eitingon-Schild Company... Mr. Shulhof was appointed to the Port of New York Authority by Governor Smith in March, 1924, to succeed Eugenius H. Outerbridge. He resigned March 21, 1927... He was president of the Odorless By-Products and Reduction Company, which obtained an option to purchase Barren Island and the old disposal plant there in an effort to persuade the city to contract with it for the disposal of garbage in 1922. The plan fell through... In 1925 Mr. Shulhof was ' president of the Dualite Electric Lamp Corporation, which manufactured a new type of incandescent lamp, and in 1927 he headed the American Neon Light and Sign Corporation, which manufactured neon lights."

A photo dated 1929 by Percy Loomis Sperr (1890-1964) in the New York Public Library's digital collections shows a neon sign atop the Lefcourt Empire Building reading "American Neon Beacon Light" (click for image). In the same photograph on the building to the west of 689 6th Ave. there is a prominent Greenwich Savings Bank sign, directing us to branches at Broadway at 36th St. and 16th St. at 6th Ave. For more about the Greenwich Savings Bank see 14th Street. Another Percy Loomis Sperr photo dated 1928 shows the sign above reading "American Neon Light & Sign Corp." This is also available in NYPL's Digital Collections

< previous || next  >      index      map      signs by date      signs by name      see what's new