Signs of the times on Chicago streets

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In the pantheon of urban blight, you’ve got to rank bad store signage at or near the top of the list. Back-lit plastic signs are the scourge of the streetscape, a venomous attack on the very act of seeing.

Although we are not here to hype commercial ventures (except, uh, maybe the stray reference to a residential development we like), a shout-out is definitely in order for the guys at The Wooden Sign Company, who since 1972 (according to the company’s Web site) have been doing their bit to make the views along our avenues a lot more appealing.

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You can see most of these just by riding around the streets of Lake View (Wooden Sign’s workshop is on Cornelia, right below the Brown Line tracks), but the pictures on its Web site are probably better than ours.

Most of the designs have a retro sensibility, but mostly manage to avoid the slide from charm into cutesiness, and they work equally well with a modern twist.

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They are especially effective at night.

While the purist may not consider these works of “art,” they are each to be appreciated as examples of that increasingly rare thing — the one-of-a-kind handmade object.

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