Neon lights have been a big part of Las Vegas culture since 1929. A small glowing sign over Oasis Café on Fremont Street started the trend that continues to be seen in photos, films and home videos. Since the first small neon sign on Fremont in ‘29, the following 30 years saw the illumination of nearly every restaurant, bar and casino on the strip, including Bluegreen Club 36™. The bright lights of the big city began to glisten, gleam and multiply, earning the city the name Glitter Gulch. The presence of neon gas was and still is such a prominent part of Las Vegas culture, it is continually referenced in literature, television and popular songs, including the tried and true “Viva Las Vegas,” by the King of Las Vegas himself.
If you’re like a large majority of Americans, visions of Las Vegas include bright bulbs and shining lights. Whether it’s the Rat Pack, Elvis Presley, Barry Manilow, Cher, Showgirls, Cirque du Soleil or Blue Man Group kind of Las Vegas you envision, odds are you envision shining lights pointing you to whichever show you choose. So when you vacation in Las Vegas, go look at the shiny, neon-y things that have populated the streets of this sinful city.
Founded in 1996 in order to preserve the classic art form of Las Vegas, the Neon Museum is home to more than 150 signs that tell unique and amusing stories about the creation of Sin City. Signs that date back to the 1930s begin the tale of Las Vegas, and as you walk past the progression of improvements and changes in styles, you will see the timeline that makes up the streets of the city.
Start in “The Boneyard,” where you will find some of the city’s most treasured signs. Caesar’s Palace, Binions Horseshoe, Gold Nugget, Silver Slipper and Stardust marquees all call this sign sanctuary home. Rather than pointing visitors into the realm of slots, shots and loud songs, they now offer inspiration to artists, students, historians and designers. They offer up close looks into the grandeur of Las Vegas, and provide a narrative of the hustle that is required to remain relevant in the city. But not all who fall remain down for the count. The Neon Museum has restored 10 once down-on-their-luck signs, which can now be seen along Fremont Street.
Take a self-guided tour down Fremont , beginning in front of the Neonopolis at Las Vegas Boulevard. As you stroll down to the 3rd Street cul-de-sac, you will find the late greats of The Hacienda Horse and Rider, The Flame, Aladdin’s Lamp, Andy Anderson, Chief Court Hotel, Wedding Information, The Red Barn, Dot’s Flowers and Nevada Motel. Thanks to the Neon Museum, these signs have new light and once again light up the streets of Las Vegas.
The Neon Museum offers tours and a donation gets you through the gates. Reservations are recommended.
Just so you know, the grounds do have to broken glass and rusty metal. Because of this, visitors must wear close-toed shoes and stay with the group during the tour.
If you are taking a vacation to Las Vegas Nevada, ask the concierge at Bluegreen Club 36 about reservations and transportation.