Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

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"Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" on Las Vegas Boulevard

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas is a googie- style sign illuminated by fluorescent tubes on the median of Las Vegas Boulevard, which has welcomed visitors to Las Vegas since 1959 . The original sign is about 500 m south of the exit from Interstate 15 on West Russel Road, south of the Mandalay Bay Resort at the airport.

Designed by Betty Willis (1923-2015) on behalf of Clark County , the sign was erected in 1959 by the Western Neon company and is now owned by the Young Electric Sign Company. It stands on land that Clark County has had right of way since 2005 . The interstate highway was not completed until the 1970s, before traffic from Los Angeles on the former US Highway 91 led past this sign into the city. It's one of the few neon signs in the fast-paced city of Las Vegas that has stood around for so long. However, it is not located within Las Vegas, but about 6.5 kilometers outside the southern city limits in Paradise .

When the sign was put up in 1959, the one-story casino hotel Hacienda was the next development. Since then, the street has changed significantly, and now the multi-story Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is located there . The motif of the sign is sold in different versions as a souvenir in the city and is very popular with tourists .


The board with the words “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” is mounted on two square, 279 mm (11  inch ) thick pillars 980 mm (40 inches) apart and connected at the top by a cross brace. The construction is painted blue. Both pillars protrude from the top of the shield. The shield is in the shape of a diamond that is stretched wide. The top and bottom tips are angular, while the side tips are rounded. The sign has a front and back wall made of white, translucent plastic material, and the lighting is located inside. The side surface between the front wall and the rear wall is covered with light bulbs that light up one after the other.

Above the shield, below the cross brace, sits a red-painted, octagonal star made of metal, with yellow fluorescent tubes running along the edges . However, the four longer spikes protrude beyond the outline of the construction and run around the frame.

In the upper part of the shield, seven white fluorescent tube rings symbolize silver dollar pieces. In each of them there is a letter in red color, which is also represented by neon tubes in the same color. Together they make up the word "Welcome" . Below it is in italic, blue letters "to Fabulous" and in the next line again in red "Las Vegas" . The state name follows below in capital letters in a much smaller font size in blue color.

There is different text on the back of the sign. In red capital letters over two lines, " Drive Carefully " warns motorists driving out of the city to be careful, in the third and fourth lines the request to come back soon is written in blue: " Come Back Soon ".


The sign at night with neon lighting

Las Vegas was just a railroad hub in 1905, losing its importance after a railroad strike in the mid-1920s. The construction of the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River made the city grow. In connection with the world economic crisis , however, the city leaders were looking for a permanent source of economic development. Nevada liberalized the laws that regulated gambling in 1931. In the same year, the waiting time in the divorce proceedings was reduced to six weeks, which gave the city further encouragement. The repeal of the Volstead Act , which ended prohibition in the United States in 1933, did the rest.

The simplified divorce proceedings only slowly developed into a magnet for guests in Las Vegas, Reno was quicker here. It was not until the divorce of Ria and Clark Gable in 1939 that Las Vegas became the public consciousness of a place where, if necessary, after a quick divorce in the morning, people could remarry in the afternoon. Pictures of Ria Gable at the casino, on Lake Mead, and in the snow on Mount Charleston were printed in the national press - Mrs. Gable had willingly cooperated with the Chamber of Commerce . The introduction of a three-day waiting period in California to prevent intoxicated weddings and mandatory blood tests made getting married in Las Vegas even more attractive.

World War II was a setback for the Las Vegas tourism industry, but growth continued immediately after the war ended. The Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) opened a production branch in 1946 and dominated the neon sign market .

In the late 1940s, the Strip began to compete with the old center, Fremont Street . The Flamingo Hotel and Casino opened in 1946, and Desert Inn , Silver Slipper , Sahara , Sands and The Dunes were built there in the 1950s . Many of the tourists in Las Vegas came from California and traveled on US Highway 91, which is why numerous entertainment facilities were built on this incursion route. These should intercept the tourists before they even reached the city center.

The sign that reads “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” is the result of a collaborative public relations effort between the city council, casinos and hotels. Signs welcoming motorists were posted in many cities across the United States after World War II, and Las Vegas was no exception. It goes without saying, however, that Las Vegas would not put up a simple wooden board. The sign on the California approach road had to be as eye-catching as it could possibly be.

The administration of Clark County decided in May 1959 to erect the sign on the median of what was then US Highway 91, without taking into account that the right of way was at the time with the state of Nevada. US $ 4,000 (purchasing power 1959; adjusted for inflation: US $ 35,000) was allocated for the sign  .

"Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" was designed in 1959 by Betty Whitehead Willis, who also designed the signs for the Blue Angel Motel and the Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino . The latter was the first desegregated casino in Las Vegas in 1955 and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places . Willis was influenced by the aesthetics of Southern California. "I added a Disney star for happiness," she later stated.

While the sign has been relocated several times over the years, the Clark County Commission records that approved the sign's installation just north of the old McCarran Airport - where the sign is today - speak against it.

In 1993, some officials and hotel owners suggested that the sign from 1959 be torn down and replaced. They thought it was out of date. The public outcry saved the sign, which was then renovated and brought up to the state of the art. In October 1999 the sign was dark for about a month because the new owner of YESCO no longer wanted to pay for the electricity costs.

Shortly after the mass murder in Las Vegas in 2017 , the sign was spontaneously expanded to become a memorial. Flowers, candles and messages for the victims and helpers were placed under the sign. A carpenter from Illinois set up 60 white wooden crosses in the immediate vicinity, 58 of them with the names and pictures of the victims.

Development of neon signs in the city

In April 1929, the Las Vegas Neon Electric Sign Company began operations, and other companies soon followed to gain a share of the Las Vegas neon sign market. The Young Electric Sign Company (Yesco), headquartered in Salt Lake City opened in 1932 an office in the city.

In May 1933, a neon sign was installed at the Boulder Club depicting a mug of foamy beer, and in August of the same year the Big Four Club set up a neon sign depicting the pouring of a beer on one side and coins falling into a purse on the other . In October 1936, the Boulder Club installed a new, larger neon sign, and again in 1945 an even larger one. In the 1940s, the race for the largest and most eye-catching neon neon sign in Las Vegas began.

A neon sign was erected across the street from the Pioneer Club depicting the head of the cowboy Vegas Vic , the mascot of the Chamber of Commerce, with a cigarette smoking between his hands. Above the inscription Here is it! The famous Pioneer Club an arrow flashed pointing to the club entrance. In 1951 an even larger full-size image of the figure was created on the side of the building; it measured 20 meters from the foot to the tip of the hat, one arm waved.

In 1953 there was a 15 m high neon sign on the flamingo , in 1958 the neon sign of the Stardust ; In 1968 it was supplemented by the neon lighting on the hotel canopy and became the dominant feature on the Strip. In the 1960s and 1970s others were created: for example the pink and orange feathers on the flamingo, the giant sultan on "The Dunes" and the Roman columns and centurions of Caesars Palace . The many neon lights on the Golden Nugget and Horseshoe made Fremont Street as bright at night as it was by day. At the beginning of the 21st century, neon signs are increasingly being replaced by giant billboards and video screens.

Although the design of the sign is registered as a trademark , there is no copyright . There are numerous offers on the Internet with the motif on framed pictures, mugs, T-shirts and other items. YESCO as the trademark owner does not take action against the use of the motif, provided it does not damage the image.

For the centenary of the city, the city administration established a sign that says "Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas" (German. Welcome to the fabulous downtown Las Vegas ) just behind the actual city limits on Las Vegas Boulevard.

The county has created a parking lot for a few vehicles on the median near the sign, as well as two places for tourist buses to stop, as the sign is a popular photo opportunity. Until this parking lot was completed in January 2009, the vehicles either parked in the turning lane or on the right-hand side of the road, so that the photo tourists walked across the three-lane lane.


The sign that reads “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” is significant as it is symbolic of the entertainment industry after World War II . Las Vegas grew explosively in the 1950s and the sign reflects the optimism of that generation of casino owners and city leaders who reigned during that period of hotel casino growth.

The sign embodies Las Vegas as an important center of gambling tourism and represents the time when The Rat Pack , Frank Sinatra , Sammy Davis Jr. , Dean Martin and others made the Las Vegas Strip world famous. It has literally not been changed since then, unlike the Strip and the buildings from that era, many of which were demolished to make way for larger structures. It is therefore a constant in the fast-moving city.

The sign is also significant as an outstanding example of the Exaggerate Modern / Googie Architecture of the 1940s to 1960s. It is also of historical value because this architecture is disappearing more and more in the southwestern United States.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g Dorothy Wright and Angela Moor: The "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" Sign ( English , PDF; 4.2 MB) In: National Register of Historic Places Registration Form . National Park Service . May 1, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2008.
  2. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/aztecs/sd-sp-azfoot-las-vegas-sign-memorial-for-shooting-victims-1008-story.html

Coordinates: 36 ° 4 ′ 55.3 "  N , 115 ° 10 ′ 21.8"  W.