18 May 2020

SLC's Huge Electric Sign

Auerbach Company and sign 1920, from UDSH
This large electric sign once hung at the intersection of Broadway (300 South) and State Street in Salt Lake City.

The sign was installed on July 10, 1916, and was the largest electric sign hung over any street in the U.S. up to that point (according to the Salt Lake Telegram). It measured 19 feet in diameter and swung 65 feet above the street. The sign was hung by 3 steel wire cables, 2 of which are 3/4 of an inch thick and the other is 1/2 inch thick.

The sign was in the form of a huge wheel with the hub representing the center of the shopping district; the spokes radiating from it the lines of industry; and the rim, revolving rapidly the symbol of commercial activity which characterizes the neighborhood. 

 Additionally, the words “Shopping Center” flashed on and off at regular intervals. The sign contained nearly 800 10-watt bulbs of various colors.

Electric signs were a novelty at the time, and this once was even more spectacular in that it rotated.

The sign was conceived by Herbert S. Auerbach and was an outcome of a plan by the Broadway Improvement Association and the State Street Improvement Association to promote that intersection’s businesses. The sign was made by the Intermountain Electric Company of SLC.

The sign hung at the intersection for several years and was removed sometime between 1920-1925.

Sources: SL Telegram July 11 & 16 1916.

Detail of sign 1920, from UDSH.

Local electrician James B. Pola standing above
the sign, SL Herald Republican July 12 1916.

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