Downtown Las Vegas Set to Use Vintage Neon Again

Publish: 01.08.2018
Approval for a new restoration project in downtown Las Vegas could help in bringing back vintage neon lights back to the region. The city is changing rapidly. Last year, the Fremont and Main corner’s most iconic sight, the historic Las Vegas Club was demolished. The structure that has been a regular sight for residents since 1949 will now be replaced with a new casino project by Derek Stevens. Two other buildings sabotaged for the project included the neon cowgirl Vegas Vicky and the Mermaid Casino. The new project will be the first casino to be built from scratch in the downtown area since 1980.

Old pawn shops and low-rent strip clubs are also saying goodbye to town and now being replaced by zombie apocalypse arenas and esports arenas. This week, even the age-old Adult Superstore on Main Street called off its business. The other areas in downtown, especially on Fremont Street where there are multimedia canopies covering your view, there could be a nostalgic trip down the memory lane.

Las Vegas, however, is not a city that would leave all its legacies behind. They are bringing back their old neon signs from the graveyard. On Monday, the Centennial Commission of the city approved a $762,000 budget that will help in bringing back the lost classic glory of the city in the form of neon signage. The motel strip down the Fremont East could be revived with the help of neon signage. Many old buildings that previously operated as motels are still present in the region. Signs for Lucky Motel, Travelers Motel, Las Vegas Motel, Gables Motel, Starview Motel and Valley Motel will be revived in the new project.

Underlining the historical significance of this signage, City Attorney Brad Jerbic said that if Las Vegas were a person, its signature would be neon.

Not everyone in the city is impressed with this visit to the past. Las Vegas Club, for instance, was originally built across the street from its final location. Opened in 1930, the first neon sign of the club wasn’t made until 1931 when the owner J. Kell Houssels made the first ever neon sign for a casino-hotel in the world. Demolishing the place where the neon sign revolution started and letting other businesses who don’t work as motels anymore, put up motel signboards isn’t a logical step for everyone.

A member of the city commission Robert Stoldal wasn’t buying the reinstating argument. He said that the city is putting up a façade of motel signs that aren’t even motels. He said that he doesn’t see the value that the new project would create for a person who goes downtown. Stoldal added that people will go to the streets, attracted by vintage signage and they will look behind the curtain only to find that there is nothing hidden there.

People like city councilman Bob Coffin welcomed the decision and said that the creation of Las Vegas Community Healing Garden and the restoration of vintage signs will help downtown capture and revive its past.