Friday, October 3, 2008

Play It Again, Sam

For those of you old enough to remember Sam the Record Man on Yonge street, tomorrow night may be your last time to catch the neon sign in all its glory.
Check this out:

Think of Toronto and a few things instantly come to mind.
There's the CN Tower, of course.
The Rogers Centre, once considered one of the wonders of the baseball world.
New City Hall, which was even featured in a memorable episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
And then there's another icon, one that's fallen on hard times. It's the Sam The Record Man sign that used to spin its double discs at Yonge and Gould for more than four decades.
The symbol of a bygone era in the music industry - and by extension a piece of Toronto that's also past - has gone dark, after Sam's went
out of business at the end of June 2007.
Since then, the sign of what once stood there has become the subject of many battles, eventually ending when City Hall declared the spinning discs a heritage landmark. Ryerson took over the building where the mighty record store stood for years, and has plans to rebuild it.
But fans of the famous symbol will get one last chance to see it in all its neon glory this weekend, during
Nuit Blanche, the all night art show. Your final opportunity to see it in action will happen after dark Saturday night.
"When the sun goes down, we're going to have the last lighting of the Sam's sign and the switched will be turned," explains Ryerson President Sheldon Levy. "And for the rest of that night until dusk ... we're going to have Nuit Blanche lit up with the Sam's sign for the last time."
Levy notes that Ryerson agreed to take on the responsibility of preserving the classic when it bought the building. The site will undergo extensive renovations - it will be a lot taller than it is now, although they're not yet sure how high it will go - and the current hope is to put it back right where it's always been.
"If that doesn't work, we have committed to the city an alternate choice that is essentially very close to the existing building."
So get out Saturday night for one last neon-glowing look at an old T.O. that's rapidly fading. "It's sort of the Toronto of the future ... and the city looking forward," Levy concludes. "But always remembering its past."

I remember as a kid, for something to do on a Saturday night the family would pile into the car and we would go for a drive along Yonge street starting from Bloor and heading south towards Queen street to see all the lights and neon signs. Sam the Record Man's sign was always one that stood out. I'm happy they declared it a heritage site and that the sign will live again someday.
story and picture courtesy of

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