“Signs are like archeological layers that reveal different periods of human occupancy and use,” writes Michael J. Auer in a report for the National Park Service about the importance of preserving historic signs.The way signs are designed and built, and the technologies they use, reflect not only the trends but also the values of their place and time. Commercial vernacular architecture in mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles was dominated by car culture. These color snapshots, taken between 1955 and 1972, document kitschy roadside signs designed to communicate boldly to passing drivers. Motels, coffee shops, drugstores, real estate offices, and more vied for attention using playful colors, shapes, and fonts. These colorful beacons expressed optimism in modernity and technology through moving and light-up elements. The prevalence of the signs corresponded with the wide availability of color film—the perfect medium to capture their (now faded) vibrancy. These selections come from the California Historical Society’s collection of business sign photography.