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Artkraft Strauss


Throughout the twentieth century, Artkraft Strauss, located in Manhattan, New York, was the preeminent designer and creator of Times Square's iconic signs and displays. These included the “smoking” Camel sign, which wafted giant smoke rings over the Square; the Bond Clothing display, a block-long extravaganza with a perpetual waterfall; and the high-neon north-Square “spectaculars” created for Canadian Club and Admiral Television. For almost a century, Artkraft Strauss was also responsible for the annual midnight ball-lowering that signaled the new year’s arrival.

Artkraft Strauss began as Strauss Signs. Founded in 1897 by artisan Benjamin Strauss, the company furnished New York’s retailers with posters and painted show cards. By the teens and 20s, Strauss signs, applying the innovative methods of a Russian immigrant named Jacob Starr, had become the Square’s principal builder of theater marquees and entertainment displays, including the original marquee for the New Amsterdam Theatre. In the 1920s Starr left Strauss to start his own engineering firm in association with the Artkraft Company of Lima, Ohio, a leading maker of neon lighting, a newly minted technology. Starr formed Artkraft-New York, and in 1931 merged with his old employer, Strauss, creating Artkraft Strauss. By the 1950s, Artkraft Strauss dominated the outdoor advertising market in Times Square, and was known worldwide.

Artkraft Strauss maintained its singular presence in the Square after neon had been eclipsed by electronic technologies, a process that began in the 1980s, and was thus involved in the area’s rebirth after years of deterioration. Chief among its work from this period are the block-long news and stock tickers on Morgan Stanley’s headquarters on Broadway, and the 1992 north-Square Coca-Cola display, which featured state-of-the-art digital technology. After divesting itself of its manufacturing facilities in 2006, Artkraft Strauss became a design and project management consultant. It also established an archive of its photos and other memorabilia, a collection spanning over a century of New York City commercial and esthetic history.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Artkraft_Strauss". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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