People have been staring at neon sign’s ever since French inventor George Claude sold Packard Motor Cars the first two in the early 1920’s. Yet it’s in America’s Las Vegas of the 1940’s–1950’s that the neon sign came of age as an artistic medium.
Although most of the millions of annual visitors roam the Strip with its larger-than-life tropical islands, fountains and canals, it’s in the original Vegas downtown that nostalgia reigns – still titillating but on a human scale.
The centerpiece of this revival of interest and effort in neon preservation has been the commercial success of the Fremont Street Experience. The corner of Fremont & Main is the 1905 birthplace of Las Vegas so it’s appropriate that Fremont Street should anchor the revival of “downtown.” For several blocks it’s covered like a European market yet a pulsing high-tech Las Vegas one of restored icons, such as the legendary El Cortez and Golden Nugget hotels, penny casinos, live bands, buskers, fried Twinkies and neon lights.