It was a challenge to affix Main Street signage to pre-Modern buildings because the architecture got in the way.
With all the columns, pediments, window hoods, textured siding and bracketed eves, there was no place for the sign, so it had to protrude perpendicularly from the front façade or be painted on the un-architectured side wall. As the Main Street commercial district got longer, taller and more complex, bigger, electrically-lit signs could only expand vertically. Several vertical signs competed for attention on Norfolk, Virginia’s Granby Street in the 1950s including two titanic neon metal box signs for the Loew’s and Norva theaters. The smooth, unornamented facades of Modernism lent themselves more readily to signage. In fact, the entire facade could present itself as one big sign as in the case of Adrian, the Butler Shoe store and Lerner Shops.