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A sign of growth: One man's quest to capture Austin's most iconic signs

 A black and white photo of a tall brick building with a vertical sign advertising "Grove's Drugs".
Neal Douglass
The Austin History Center, ND-56-244-02
A look at the old Grove Drugs sign from April 1956.

This story was originally published on Dec. 2, 2015.

Six years ago, web designer Reagan Ray started a simple side project. He wanted to create portraits of 100 of Austin’s iconic signs. Inspired by frequent strolls along South Congress Avenue with his wife, he decided to start with one of their favorites, the South Austin Motel sign.

But, like many side projects, his plan to sketch all of Austin’s iconic signage fell by the wayside until the signs and some of the mainstays that accompanied them – places like Katz’s and Las Manitas – began to disappear.

“In the past six years, I’ve done a handful of signs that have all come down,” he says. “So, it’s become a little bit of a documentary project as well because these signs keep disappearing.”

A 20-year resident, Ray really took notice when the signs along his walking route – namely, Fran’s and the Don-Mar Motor Court – were taken down over the past year or so.

He dove back into his side project and is now debuting the Mondo-esque prints via Twitter and his website. So far, he’s gotten about 30 in the bag and he says he’s considered starting a kickstarter to collate the signs into a book when he finishes the project.

Below, you can take a look back at some of Ray’s prints, along with his reference photos for comparison, and check out his entire collection on his website.

Capitol Saddlery

Catfish Parlour

Horseshoe Lounge

Grove Drugs

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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