Although this landmark electric sign is viewed fondly by locals, it has actually had a checkered history.

The Bristol Gas and Electric Company donated the sign to the cities and erected it in 1910.  It was initially located on the corner of Third and State Street (on top of the Bristol Supply & Equipment Company building), which is to the right of the sign’s current position. Back then, it read ‘Push! That’s Bristol’ instead of “A Good Place to Live.”

Unfortunately, three years later, it was found that the sign was so heavy it was causing structural damage to the building on which it sat. The sign was relocated to its present, more appropriate position, with a foot in each state, in 1915.

Over time some bulbs would persistently fail to light, and in combinations that, on one occasion, led to the sign reading “Pu– That’s Bristol” and on another ”–sh That’s Bristol.”

In 1921 there was a contest to find a ‘new and fitting slogan for Bristol.’ This resulted in the sign’s original, slightly curious motto being changed to the less confusing, more appealing ‘A Good Place to Live.’ The runner-up was ‘Bristol, The Best Place to Live.’ The winning slogan was chosen since it is “modest in claim and truthful in statement.”

Today the sign is on the National Register of Historic Places and maintained by both cities. Decade after decade, it has been the subject of countless photographs.

Oh, and the impact of the sign during the day is nothing compared to the grand spectacle of it lit up at night.

Bristol Sign

199 U.S. 421
Bristol, Virginia 24201

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