Signs, Streets, and Storefronts

A History of Architecture and Graphics Along America's Commercial Corridors

Treu, Martin, 1957-

Book - 2012
Signs, Streets, and Storefronts
Book News
Examining more than 200 years of signs along America's passageways, Treu (architect, environmental designer) puts a spotlight on the creative commercial designs of the past and the design developments of the present, focusing on the need for historical preservation. This compelling history of signage and architecture presents a comprehensive view of the American commercial landscape and how customer needs, corporate interest, municipal mandates, and technological advancements have influenced its design. Of interest to architects, city planners, designers, armchair-historians, and Americana enthusiasts, this volume contains 173 illustrations, extensive notes, and an essay on sources. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Johns Hopkins University Press

Signs, Streets, and Storefronts addresses more than 200 years of signs and place-marking along America’s commercial corridors. From small-town squares to Broadway, State Street, and Wilshire Boulevard, Martin Treu follows design developments into the present and explores issues of historic preservation.

Treu considers "common" architecture and its place-defining business signs as well as influential high-style design examples by taste-making leaders. Combining advertising and architectural history, the book presents a full picture of the commercial landscape, including design adaptations made for motorists and the migration from Main Street to suburbia.

The dynamic between individual businesses and the common good has a major effect on the appearance of our country's Main Streets. Several forces are at work: technological advances, design imagination and the media, corporate propaganda, customer needs, and municipal mandates. Present-day controls have often led to a denuding of traditional commercial corridors. Such reform, Treu argues, has suppressed originality and radically cleared away years of accumulated history based on the taste of a single generation.

A must-read for city planners, town councils, architects, sign designers, concerned citizens, and anyone who cares about the appearance and vitality of America’s commercial streets, this heavily illustrated book is equally appealing to armchair historians, small-town enthusiasts, and lovers of Americana.

Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012
ISBN: 142140494X
Branch Call Number: 659.1342 T
Characteristics: xii, 384 pages, [32] pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm.


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