Lights. Cameras. Neon. If there’s anything Las Vegas is known for, it’s dazzling neon lights. It’s no wonder this dazzling city habitually goes by the Neon City! With countless stunning signs throughout the city, how can you possibly pick your favorite? Simple! After this history of famous Las Vegas signs, you’ll be poised to pick your favorite! Read on to learn more about the evolution of neon signs in the city.
No list of famous neon signs in Las Vegas is complete without the iconic ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign! Designed by Betty Willis in 1959, this sign stands as an iconic landmark at the southern end of the strip. Its retro-style font and strategic placement on a median along Las Vegas Boulevard work together to greet visitors and symbolize the city’s vibrant entertainment scene. Over the years, the sign has become a cultural icon, featured in movies, TV shows, and music videos. The sign also serves as one of the city’s most popular photo spots. In 2012, the sign was added to the National Register of Historic Places, solidifying its historical significance and impact.
One of the most iconic neon signs in Vegas, Vegas Vic is located in Downtown Las Vegas on Fremont Street, and actually holds a world record as the largest mechanical neon sign. He’s been Downtown since 1951, originally installed over the Pioneer Hotel that is now a souvenir shop. Standing 40 feet tall, Vic was built with advanced mechanics for his time with an arm that waves, a moving cigarette, and sound. He spent 1980 to 2016 with his partner in crime, Vegas Vickie, waving and kicking in style over Fremont Street. The two even got married in 1994 as the Fremont Street Experience was being constructed!
Vegas Vickie, a vibrant neon sign portraying a cowgirl with a waving arm and kicking leg, gained fame when it was created in 1980 by YESCO for the Glitter Gulch Gentlemen’s Club on Fremont Street. Its animated design quickly made it a landmark, drawing attention from visitors and locals alike. However, the closure of the Glitter Gulch Gentlemen’s Club in 2016 meant Vickie was on the move! The sign was carefully dismantled and put on vacation until her YESCO restoration when she found a new and improved lease on life! Vegas Vickie currently resides in a state-of-the-art cocktail lounge called Vegas Vickie’s within Circa Las Vegas Resort & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas.
In 1946, one of the most notorious Las Vegas mobsters, Bugsy Siegel opened the iconic Flamingo Hotel & Casino, which donned a pink neon “Flamingo” sign. After his death in 1947, the hotel found itself under new management, and a fresh facelift in 1953 that added a “Champagne Tower” made up of neon pink bubbles. In 1976, the signage went through another round of redesigns, which is the sign we see today. With the same font as the original 1946 Flamingo sign paired with some dazzling neon plumage, this flamingo-pink neon sign has been one of the most memorable on The Strip for decades.
The hotels in Las Vegas have had a long history of glitz and glam, but one casino has seen the longest history: Golden Gate Hotel & Casino. Originating as the Hotel Nevada in 1906, the Golden Gate embraced neon innovation during the 1920s, becoming an early adopter of the luminous art. They installed their first outdoor electric sign in 1927, which was the forerunner of the neon lights soon to dazzle Fremont Street. Since then, the signage at 1 Fremont Street has evolved, from the Hotel Nevada’s electric sign, to Sal Sagev’s neon lights in 1931, to the rebranded Golden Gate lights in 1955, to the remodeled Golden Gate neon signs we see today.
If you’re in town to learn neon history, taking a trip to the Neon Museum for the Stardust sign is a must! Created for the Stardust Resort and Casino in 1958, the original design was created to mimic the starry night sky. Becoming a symbol of Las Vegas entertainment, the sign underwent many modifications and updates to maintain its eye-catching appearance throughout the years. Tragically, the original sign was demolished along with the hotel in 2007 to make room for a new resort. Luckily, the Neon Museum preserved many of the elements of the signs, including the iconic stars and lettering, ensuring future visitors a chance to see this glittering piece of Vegas history.
The Neon City boasts a rich history illuminated by its iconic neon signs. From the legendary “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” greeting visitors since 1959 to the vibrant Vegas Vickie, each of these luminous landmarks paint a dazzling narrative of Las Vegas’ recent past. Now that you know the best neon Vegas has to offer, what’s stopping you? Plan your trip today, book your room at Golden Gate, and personally pick your favorite neon sign!