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Here's the story behind the neon sign in the window of Indigo on Granville St

A blast from the past.

Vancouver was once known for its neon.

At its height, in the 1950s, the city boasted over 19,000 neon signs—more than Las Vegas at the time according to the Vancouver Museum which once housed an exhibition dedicated to the neon signage of the city.

One item in its collection never made it into the exhibit but the residents of Fairview may unknowingly pass a replica every day.

In the window of the big Indigo bookstore on the corner of Granville and West Broadway, there is a neon sign that harkens back to the spot's former tenant, The Aristocratic restaurant.

The Aristocratic was one of a chain of cafe diners across Vancouver in the 1930s. The first location opened in 1932 on Kingsway and Fraser Street and the Broadway location opened in 1939 as part of a project by the Vancouver School Board to bring in revenue by building shops along the eastern edge of their property.

The Broadway Aristocratic had several neon signs on the building which took up the entire corner, one of which was a massive blue square with the chain's mascot "Risty" who sported a monocle and top hat. The sign read, "Courteous service — quality food...all over town."

When the restaurant eventually closed (the last one of the chain), the sign was given to the Museum of Vancouver for preservation but it was so big it couldn't fit through the door to be featured as part of the exhibit.

It remained in storage until recently when it was transported to its new home at the old post office building along with all the other neon signs which will be on display in the publicly accessible areas of the building.

A much smaller replica of the sign is on display at Indigo to pay homage to the building that was torn down in 1997. It has been in the window since the bookstore first opened on the corner as Chapters.

With files from Brendan Kergin.

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