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A red sign above the baseball field’s entrance reads: Wrigley Field Home of the Chicago Cubs.
Wrigley Field marquee

16 iconic signs that define Chicago

From neon church crosses, flashing theater names, and the red Wrigley marquee

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Wrigley Field marquee

Chicago may be best known for its skyscraper-filled skyline, but it’s distinctive signs that decorate the tops and sides of buildings and advertise businesses arguably rank a close second.

Some of the signs are obvious and world-famous—think of the relic hanging from Wrigley Field’s entrance or Chicago Theater’s flashy marquee—and others are long-time fixtures in Chicago’s neighborhoods beloved by locals.

It’s true that some of Second City’s historic favorites are gone (R.I.P. the old Zenith sign and the huge set of lips advertising Magikist looming over Chicago’s expressways) but many more have survived the city’s never-ending waves of redevelopment.

We’ve assembled 15 of the most iconic Chicago signs that you can still see today. This is not a definitive list: Let’s face it, one could make a entire list from classic theater marquees alone—but rather this list includes a variety of venues from all over the city.

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1. The Green Mill

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4802 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 878-5552
Visit Website

Frequently cited as one of Al Capone’s favorite haunts, the Green Mill represents Chicago from another era. And thankfully it is still here today, including its sign with all of its jazz-era glory and sparkle.

2. Aragon Ballroom

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1106 W Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 561-9500
Visit Website

This music venue, designed a historic landmark in 2016, is no longer a ballroom. But the good news is that Aragon’s iconic sign, built in a Moorish architectural style, has received a fresh coat of paint and some sprucing up.

3. Wrigley Field

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1060 W Addison St
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 404-2827
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Like the rest of aging Wrigley Field, the beloved red marquee hanging on the stadium’s main entrance got some much-needed TLC in 2016. It remains—surprise!—one of the most photographed signs in professional sports.

A photo of the red Wrigley Field marquee with the text: Wrigley Field Home of Chicago Cubs. Getty Images

4. Dinkel's Bakery

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3329 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 281-7300
Visit Website

Although this sign isn’t the flashiest, it signifies a North Side institution. Dinkel’s bakery opened in 1922 and has been baking up irresistible Bavarian recipes and powder sugar packzis ever since. The old school neon sign is a hallmark of neighborhood.

5. Margie's Candies

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1960 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 384-1035
Visit Website

Margie’s Candies has been putting smiles on peoples’ faces for almost 90 years, and the interior decor of this Chicago mainstay can attest to its longevity. Hardly anything has been changed at Margie’s over the years, including its rosy neon lights that flood Milwaukee, Western and Armitage.

6. Morton Salt shed

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1357 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

The Morton Salt girl is unanimous with Chicago. While the company has vacated the space, it’s bold Helvetica lettering, yellow dress, and purple umbrella are still painted on the corrugated metal roof. In 2018, a developer bought the property and proposed turning it into an entertainment destination called the Salt District—the signage, of course, preserved in the renderings.

7. The Drake Hotel

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140 E Walton Pl
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-2200
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The hotel’s historic sign was renovated in 2013—the 10-feet-tall letters are now LED instead of neon and glow light purple instead of pink. Still, the gothic script that lights up the skyline over Lake Shore Drive is one of the most recognizable signs in Chicago.

8. Alcala's Western Wear

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1733 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 226-0152
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The businesses that line Chicago Avenue in West Town and Ukrainian Village have changed rapidly over the last decade due to gentrification, but Alcala’s Western Wear continues to ride high. The Western-themed clothing store’s gimmicky bucking bronco and bright neon sign turn heads every time.

9. Erie-LaSalle Body Shop

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1005 W Huron St
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 337-3903
Visit Website

The old Erie-LaSalle Body Shop was demolished in 2017 after more than 80 years to make room for new condos. However, the old neon sign remains a relic of what was there before the neighborhood absorbed an overflow of residents wanting close proximity to the Loop.

10. Ohio House Motel

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600 N LaSalle Dr
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 943-6000
Visit Website

It’s a small miracle, but this kitschy ’60s era hotel that evokes vintage roadside Americana and it’s accompanying diamond-shaped sign has managed to survive a wave of massive development in River North.

11. Chicago Theater

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175 N State St
Chicago, IL 60601

The countless number of selfies and tracking shots in movies attest to the fact that few signs are as closely entwined with a city’s identity as the Chicago Theater’s six-story high sign and neon marquee. There is arguably no other sign that is more Chicago than that of this grandiose movie palace built in 1921.

12. Marshall Field’s

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111 N State St
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 781-1000
Visit Website

It’s telling that so many Chicagoans still call the nine-story neo-Renaissance-style building at State and Randolph on State Street “Marshall Field’s” considering that it’s been a Macy’s since 2006. Despite the new name on the old flagship department store, the two massive Great Clocks and signs remain throughout the building.

13. Old Johnson Publishing Company Inc

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820 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 322-9444
Visit Website

Once the headquarters of the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, this brutalist building on Michigan Avenue now houses 150 apartments and its sign remains as a historic perk for tenants to admire.

A rooftop with orange chairs and a brown sign that reads: EBONY JPC JET. Photos by Darris Lee Harris, courtesy of 3L Real Estate

14. Central Camera Company

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230 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 427-5580
Visit Website

Yes, Central Camera Co. has been in Chicago for 120 years now. Despite the endless number of technology changes the camera and film industry have witnessed over the decades, Chicagoans (specifically SAIC and Columbia College students) have kept Central Camera and its vintage sign in business.

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#centralcamerachicago

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15. Pacific Garden Mission

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1458 S Canal St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 492-9410
Visit Website

Founded in 1877, the Pacific Garden Mission is the oldest homeless shelter in Chicago. Over its long history, it’s moved several times from locations in the Loop to the South Loop. Since 2004, it’s been at 14th Place and Canal Street, where a bright neon cross proclaiming “Jesus Saves” lights the night sky.

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✝️ #jesussaves #running #morning #chicago

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16. Fox's Restaurant & Pub

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9956 S Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 239-3212
Visit Website

There are certainly flashier and more prominent signs in Chicago, but the neon sign hanging outside of this 55-year old pizza joint in Beverly embodies the classic south side Irish pub.

17. Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge

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Chicago Skyway
Chicago, IL 60617

Let’s face it: no one loves toll roads. But there’s something warmly nostalgic about the neon sign above the Chicago Skyway toll plaza connecting the Indiana Toll Road to Illinois’s Dan Ryan Expressway, which was given a facelift by local architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 2018. 

An image of a neon sign over a tollway road that reads: Chicago Skyway. SOM

1. The Green Mill

4802 N Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640

Frequently cited as one of Al Capone’s favorite haunts, the Green Mill represents Chicago from another era. And thankfully it is still here today, including its sign with all of its jazz-era glory and sparkle.

4802 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640

2. Aragon Ballroom

1106 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60640

This music venue, designed a historic landmark in 2016, is no longer a ballroom. But the good news is that Aragon’s iconic sign, built in a Moorish architectural style, has received a fresh coat of paint and some sprucing up.

1106 W Lawrence Ave
Chicago, IL 60640

3. Wrigley Field

1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613
A photo of the red Wrigley Field marquee with the text: Wrigley Field Home of Chicago Cubs. Getty Images

Like the rest of aging Wrigley Field, the beloved red marquee hanging on the stadium’s main entrance got some much-needed TLC in 2016. It remains—surprise!—one of the most photographed signs in professional sports.

1060 W Addison St
Chicago, IL 60613

4. Dinkel's Bakery

3329 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Although this sign isn’t the flashiest, it signifies a North Side institution. Dinkel’s bakery opened in 1922 and has been baking up irresistible Bavarian recipes and powder sugar packzis ever since. The old school neon sign is a hallmark of neighborhood.

3329 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657

5. Margie's Candies

1960 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

Margie’s Candies has been putting smiles on peoples’ faces for almost 90 years, and the interior decor of this Chicago mainstay can attest to its longevity. Hardly anything has been changed at Margie’s over the years, including its rosy neon lights that flood Milwaukee, Western and Armitage.

1960 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

6. Morton Salt shed

1357 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

The Morton Salt girl is unanimous with Chicago. While the company has vacated the space, it’s bold Helvetica lettering, yellow dress, and purple umbrella are still painted on the corrugated metal roof. In 2018, a developer bought the property and proposed turning it into an entertainment destination called the Salt District—the signage, of course, preserved in the renderings.

1357 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

7. The Drake Hotel

140 E Walton Pl, Chicago, IL 60611

The hotel’s historic sign was renovated in 2013—the 10-feet-tall letters are now LED instead of neon and glow light purple instead of pink. Still, the gothic script that lights up the skyline over Lake Shore Drive is one of the most recognizable signs in Chicago.

140 E Walton Pl
Chicago, IL 60611

8. Alcala's Western Wear

1733 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

The businesses that line Chicago Avenue in West Town and Ukrainian Village have changed rapidly over the last decade due to gentrification, but Alcala’s Western Wear continues to ride high. The Western-themed clothing store’s gimmicky bucking bronco and bright neon sign turn heads every time.

1733 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

9. Erie-LaSalle Body Shop

1005 W Huron St, Chicago, IL 60642

The old Erie-LaSalle Body Shop was demolished in 2017 after more than 80 years to make room for new condos. However, the old neon sign remains a relic of what was there before the neighborhood absorbed an overflow of residents wanting close proximity to the Loop.

1005 W Huron St
Chicago, IL 60642

10. Ohio House Motel

600 N LaSalle Dr, Chicago, IL 60654

It’s a small miracle, but this kitschy ’60s era hotel that evokes vintage roadside Americana and it’s accompanying diamond-shaped sign has managed to survive a wave of massive development in River North.

600 N LaSalle Dr
Chicago, IL 60654

11. Chicago Theater

175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

The countless number of selfies and tracking shots in movies attest to the fact that few signs are as closely entwined with a city’s identity as the Chicago Theater’s six-story high sign and neon marquee. There is arguably no other sign that is more Chicago than that of this grandiose movie palace built in 1921.

175 N State St
Chicago, IL 60601

12. Marshall Field’s

111 N State St, Chicago, IL 60602

It’s telling that so many Chicagoans still call the nine-story neo-Renaissance-style building at State and Randolph on State Street “Marshall Field’s” considering that it’s been a Macy’s since 2006. Despite the new name on the old flagship department store, the two massive Great Clocks and signs remain throughout the building.

111 N State St
Chicago, IL 60602

13. Old Johnson Publishing Company Inc

820 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605
A rooftop with orange chairs and a brown sign that reads: EBONY JPC JET. Photos by Darris Lee Harris, courtesy of 3L Real Estate

Once the headquarters of the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines, this brutalist building on Michigan Avenue now houses 150 apartments and its sign remains as a historic perk for tenants to admire.

820 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60605

14. Central Camera Company

230 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60604

Yes, Central Camera Co. has been in Chicago for 120 years now. Despite the endless number of technology changes the camera and film industry have witnessed over the decades, Chicagoans (specifically SAIC and Columbia College students) have kept Central Camera and its vintage sign in business.

230 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60604

15. Pacific Garden Mission

1458 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60607

Founded in 1877, the Pacific Garden Mission is the oldest homeless shelter in Chicago. Over its long history, it’s moved several times from locations in the Loop to the South Loop. Since 2004, it’s been at 14th Place and Canal Street, where a bright neon cross proclaiming “Jesus Saves” lights the night sky.

1458 S Canal St
Chicago, IL 60607

16. Fox's Restaurant & Pub

9956 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60643

There are certainly flashier and more prominent signs in Chicago, but the neon sign hanging outside of this 55-year old pizza joint in Beverly embodies the classic south side Irish pub.

9956 S Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60643

17. Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge

Chicago Skyway, Chicago, IL 60617
An image of a neon sign over a tollway road that reads: Chicago Skyway. SOM

Let’s face it: no one loves toll roads. But there’s something warmly nostalgic about the neon sign above the Chicago Skyway toll plaza connecting the Indiana Toll Road to Illinois’s Dan Ryan Expressway, which was given a facelift by local architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 2018. 

Chicago Skyway
Chicago, IL 60617