You might have passed this sign for the City Center Hotel in San Jose. While it might not look like much today, it’s one of the few remaining Diving Ladies in the South Bay. I know there’s one more at the Casa Clara Motel on El Camino in Santa Clara. Any more that you know of?
The Diving Ladies are from the time that automobile travel became really popular. Yes, that’s when the giant oranges appeared too: So much of vernacular roadside architecture is tied to that era. People stopped booking hotels when they travelled and just drove up to one and checked in, so these neon signs became really important ways to attract a family who drove by with the prospect of a pool. Even in 1987 when this newspaper clipping is from, the diving ladies were disappearing. The Park View Motel sign, pictured in the below, is gone.
These ladies were always dressed in one piece bathing suits with a mandatory bathing cap. Here’s a closer look at the one on the City Center sign, made of baked enamel.
At the corner of Reed St & Second St.