The 60-foot-tall structure began as a sign for Thomas Laguardia Jr.’s Giant Food Markets in 1959 and afterwards was sold along with the accompanying building to U-Haul in the late 1980’s. In 2018, the sign went through its latest transformation to become Johnson City’s landmark, adding a unique element to the downtown area. The sign will read bright and bold in a retro design – JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE.

The landmark features a design inspired by historic railroad signs and logos and a Tri-Star element representing Tennessee’s three regions created by Johnson City resident Colonel LeeRoy Reeves.

The greenspace surrounding the new landmark where U-Haul’s building previously stood is also undergoing a major transformation, becoming a new park for Johnson City locals and visitors to discover nature, art and walking paths while also adding a new sense of security to the area.

John Bosio of MERJE Design, the company that has designed the wayfinding plan for Johnson City, says, “I can tell you, I work throughout the country with cities of all sizes and aspirations, helping them develop identity and wayfinding programs, many of them only wish they could establish a landmark sign or feature element that will promote their town. But because they are starting from scratch, often approvals, size limitations, engineering and cost often get in the way.

In Johnson City, you have the unique opportunity to accomplish this, because you are working with an existing structure and many of the largest hurdles are already cleared. The Johnson City sign can be a landmark element that will promote the city as it appears advertising, social media and television … well beyond your city borders.”