Las Vegas in Clark County, Nevada — The American Mountains (Southwest)
Standing on Fremont Street today, it's hard to visualize the canvas tents with hand-painted wooden signs that lined this dusty street and served as hotels, saloons, shops and banks in the early 1900's. During the transition from a frontier town to a neon-lined gambling extravaganza, Fremont Street, named after explorer John C. Fremont, has remained at the heart of downtown Las Vegas. For many decades, Fremont Street was where residents shopped, teenagers cruised, and tourist played.
Early on, canvas tents were replaced with wood, brick, and concrete block buildings in the Romanesque, Victorian and Greek Revival styles. Like a typical western town, wide arcades and broad canopies with carved balustrades extended from high false fronts over the boardwalk. Corner buildings had angled entrances to take advantage of the busy intersection. The most historic survivor of the era is Golden Gate Hotel & Casino (then Hotel Nevada), which open in 1906 at One Fremont Street. The hotel was built using concrete as the primary building material by John F, Miller, who bid successfully on the corner
The sudden influx of tourism triggered by the construction of Hoover Dam and the legalization of gambling in the early 1930s fit perfectly with a "Wild West" theme that Las Vegas promoted, attracting thousands of visitors. Soon "sawdust joints" with wooden swinging or sliding glass doors replaced most of the smaller businesses along Fremont Street. Businesses had names like The Frontier Club and Hotel Apache, with signs rising above the rooftops with ornate western lettering and bright contrasting neon colors.
During the 1940s, Fremont Street exploded with neon as signs became larger and more innovatively arranged, battling to catch the consumer's eye. Modern streamline styles appeared in sign design and many casinos featured lighted overhead canopies and large, rounded, ever-flashing bull nose corners. The height of signs kept increasing, with the famous Las Vegas Club sign rising 120 feet above the sidewalk. Open frame sign appeared on rooftops, and combined with large marquees, they created neon "wraps" that covered the entire building façade with dazzling light. The most spectacular "wrap" was created at the Golden Nugget in 1956.
In the 1950s and 1960s the introduction of high-rise towers forever changed the scale of Fremont Street. Casinos expanded,
Due to its roots of spectacular lights, the biggest big-screen on the planet, Viva Vision, dazzles over 25,000 visitors nightly with free light and sound shows, and has become the signature attraction of the Fremont Street Experience. This canopy was built in 1995 and contains over 12 million LED lights and has a 550,000-watt sound system. Even with all these profound changes over the last 100 years, much of the history of Las Vegas still exists under the layers of neon on Fremont Street.
Erected 2005 by The Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Entertainment • Industry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1906.
Location. 36° 10.256′ N, 115° 8.658′ W. Marker is in Las Vegas, Nevada, in Clark County. Marker can be reached from Fremont Street. Marker is on the north side of the pedestrian mall approximately 100 feet west of Casino Center Boulevard. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Las Vegas NV 89101, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this markerGaming / Helldorado (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Las Vegas' Most Historic Hotel & Casino (about 500 feet away); Neon / Atomic Testing (about 500 feet away); Block 16 (about 500 feet away); The Flame Restaurant (about 600 feet away); Nevada Motel (about 600 feet away); The First Telephone (about 600 feet away); El Portal Theatre (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Las Vegas.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on October 1, 2011, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. This page has been viewed 911 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on October 1, 2011, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. 5. submitted on March 17, 2012, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on October 1, 2011, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. 12, 13. submitted on December 10, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.