Retro Reddy Kilowatt Substation Signs

Retro Reddy Kilowatt Substation Signs

When the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum built a state-of-the-art substation for its power distribution system, it faced a communications challenge: how do you tell visitors the significance of an industrial building containing electrical gear, and yet place it in the context of street railway history? As I brainstormed with the manager of the Power and Signals Department, I landed upon one of my favorite advertising icons of years past: Reddy Kilowatt. Born in the mind of an Alabama power executive anxious to sell people on an electrical friend to make their lives easier – and sell electricity, by the way – he envisioned a man made of lightning bolts. With a commercial artist to bring his idea to life, Reddy Kilowatt was born and evolved over the years, licensed by power companies to put a friendly face on their product. I got the permission to use the art from the current licensee of Reddy, Xcel Energy, who provided me with Illustrator files. I took it to the next step by designing the signs and illustrating the two trolleys supporting him, each representing a Western Pennsylvania railway company that provided transit and power for the transit: West Penn Railways/West Penn Power and Pittsburgh Railways Company/Duquesne Light Company. I produced the final artwork and managed the production of the vinyl on aluminum composite signs, one for the East Substation and one for the West Substation.

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