02 Apr Behind the Story of the World’s Largest Revolving Sign
Douglas Towne, SCA member since 1994, SCA Editor since 2004, and Roadside Fan since the 1970s, answers a few questions regarding his article in the Fall 2017 issue of the SCA Journal, “Ain’t No Valley Higher: The Spin on the World’s Largest Revolving Sign.”
What inspired you to write this article? The long-vacant Professional Building, a 12-story Art Deco skyscraper in downtown Phoenix built in 1931, was being refurbished into the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Phoenix in 2015. I learned that atop the building was a Valley National Bank sign from 1958-1972, which at the time was the world’s largest revolving sign. Undoubtedly, there was a compelling story to be uncovered about the sign.
What was the biggest surprise you uncovered during your research? I was able to locate and interview both the person who designed the symbol and a maintenance worker who almost lost his life working on the sign. There are many beautiful or significant historical signs, but the recollections of these two men made the sign come to life.
Anything you’d like to add? Yes, a shout-out to former SCA board member and founder of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati Tod Swormstedt, who provided the Signs of the Times magazine cover from June 1958 which featured the installation of the Valley National Bank sign.
Where can people find out more? More information about the Valley National Bank sign can be found in the Winter 2015 issue of Arizona Contractor & Community magazine.
AUTHOR INFO: In addition to his services to the SCA, Douglas Towne writes history columns for PHOENIX magazine, the Arizona Republic newspaper, and is editor of Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, a bi-monthly 80-page publication that covers the state’s construction history.