Design
Sign-spirational Sign Design – Vintage Las Vegas Signs
May 15, 2018
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Southwest road trip itinerary: 10-days Vegas to Santa Fe

When you imagine the Las Vegas strip, there’s no doubt you’ll picture it glowing with neon. From the early days of Sin City, casinos, restaurants and hotels have been shouting their presence in bright, pulsing light. Though neon has been largely replaced with contemporary technology, there are some who had the good taste and foresight to preserve those vintage Las Vegas signs. This post is a pictorial ode to the designers, neon benders, marketers and preservationists that created and continue to maintain these works of commercial art. It also includes newer creations that continue the tradition of great signage in Las Vegas.

Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas

Illuminated signs are a distinctive element of the Las Vegas streetscape, led by none other than THE “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign, a historic landmark and tourist favourite. The sign at 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South – between the airport and The Strip – has been welcoming visitors to the city since 1959. It was commissioned by salesman Ted Rogich who owned a small neon company in Nevada.

The design was created by commercial artist Betty Willis, in the Googie style which was all the rage through the 1940’s and -50’s. Betty was kind enough to gift the design to Las Vegas and therefore it was never trademarked. This has given way to oodles of Vegas merchandise bearing the design.

Disclosure: I may earn compensation from the purchase of any product or service linked on this website, at no extra cost to you. I only link to products I use and love, therefore feel comfortable recommending.

Sign-spirational World of Sign Design - Vegas Baby!
The Welcome sign
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
The rear of the welcome sign
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
Silver Slipper Casino
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
Oscar's Martini on Fremont St
Sign-spirational World of Sign Design - Vegas Baby!
5th Street Liquor Shop opened in 1945
Sign-spirational World of Sign Design - Vegas Baby!
Cocktails on Fremont St
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
Daytime viewing
Sign-spirational World of Sign Design - Vegas Baby!
The Bow & Arrow Motel
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
Bonanza, made to look vintage

“Las Vegas is the only city in the world whose skyline is made up of neither buildings [as in NYC] nor trees [Wilbraham, MA], but signs. One can look at Las Vegas from a mile away and only see signs … towering, revolving and oscillating.” – Tom Wolfe, 1963

Sign-spirational World of Sign Design - Vegas Baby!
The Hacienda Horse and Rider originally installed in 1967
Southwest road trip itinerary: 10-days Vegas to Santa Fe
Hacienda Horse & Rider sign, the first of the Las Vegas Signs Project to be refurbished and installed
Sign-spirational World of Sign Design - Vegas Baby!
Don't Tell Mama on Fremont St
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
Star Motel
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
The Normandie Hotel which opened in 1937

“Bright light city gonna set my soul; Gonna set my soul on fire.” – Elvis Presley, 1964

Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
Benny Binion's Horseshoe
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
The Lucky Cuss Motel
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
Holiday Motel
Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
High Hat Regency Motel

Find flights to Las Vegas with Skyscanner.

Search for accommodation using Tripadvisor.

Save on food and sightseeing with the great deals on Travelzoo.

Don’t forget travel insurance, I recommend Seven Corners or World Nomads.

Ways to experience vintage Las Vegas signs

  • Tour  The Neon Museum, dedicated to preserving this element of Las Vegas history. This Museum is a must-do on your Vegas itinerary, whether you’re into design, history or juicy urban legends.
  • Take a free, self-guided walk to see nine restored neon signs that have been placed into public spaces in Las Vegas. Get more information including a map here.
  • Get your photo with the original Welcome sign (there are now two other replicas). My advice is to arrive early in the morning (before 8am) to avoid a long queue. There is parking available within the median strip where the sign is located which can be accessed by southbound lanes only.

 

Soulful Souvenirs

You can take home a piece of the famous “Welcome” sign, by purchasing a light globe that was used in the landmark. They are sold to raise money for charity through the website Official Las Vegas Light.

Enjoy the bright lights, midcentury design and fabulous history of vintage Las Vegas signs. For more on Vegas, see my Southwest Road Trip Itinerary or catch more sign-spirational sign design featuring typography,  3D art and theatre marquees.

Peace, love & inspiring travel,

Madam ZoZo

Sign-spirational Sign Design - Vintage Las Vegas Signs
See some of Vegas' best signs and learn how to experience them in person

About author

Madam ZoZo

Hi! I'm Madam ZoZo, aka Zoë, an Australian designer, creative consultant, blogger and digital nomad. I'm passionate about travel, design, dance and new experiences that fuel my creativity. I strive to travel in a style that is gentle on the earth and that contributes to the communities I visits, even if it is merely to take away a greater understanding of a different culture. Duende by Madam ZoZo, is where I share the stories of my travels and the duende (soul/inspiration) I find along the way.

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