Fortunately for connoisseurs of Phoenix’s fading heritage of mom-and-pop roadside businesses and their eye-popping neon displays, Michael Levine has equipment few people possess. “A lot of people want old signs, but not many have the machinery and space to salvage and house them,” Levine says. The energetic Brooklyn native has rescued some of the city’s last remaining historic neon signs – one-of-a-kind pieces of promotional art that were installed when cars sported tail fins and Van Buren Street was the main drag for cross-country motorists.
Among the signs salvaged by Levine is one from the Sun Villa Motel, formerly located at 2529 E. Van Buren. “Its scale is incredible,” Levine says. The sign is so tall that only the top 15 feet can be displayed in his Levine Machine Complex building, located in the Warehouse District. Levine was lucky that its neon tubes were intact. “All we had to do was fire it up!”
Levine wasn’t so fortunate with the lower portion of the sign. “I power-washed out 40 years of pigeon poop and bird skeletons,” he says. “It was unbelievably putrid; I couldn’t get the smell out of my head for a week.” So why does Levine do such dirty work? Of his passion to preserve the Valley’s architectural elements, Levine says, “It’s really simple. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, and they won’t be coming back.”
Death in the Brotherhood
Who killed Cave Creek Hells Angel Patrick Eberhardt? There are some striking theories on the street. ...
Where will you live in 2035? Who will be Arizona governor in 2050? What about that bullet train to Tucson? And zombies? Steal a glimpse of the Phoenix that could be. ...
Hells Angels Shootout
After a fierce shootout last year in Chino Valley between members of the Hells Angels and rival bikers the Vagos, it seems a turf battle is brewing. Could Phoenix be a future battleground?It was a peaceful Saturday morning like any other for Terrance...
Does West Valley businessman Kyle Eng finally have a formula for a Major League Soccer-worthy franchise in Phoenix? ...
As badly as the recent Veterans affairs scandal has tarnished the agency’s reputation... ...