Las Vegas Welcome Sign

Las Vegas Welcome Sign 3/30/11

All around the United States there are iconic signs that, once you see them, you know you are headed in the right direction. And if you are headed to Las Vegas, then you need to look out for the “Welcome to Las Vegas” Sign and you know you have arrived!

This iconic sign was made in the 1959, which was about 13 years after the Vegas we know and love today was founded. It was commissioned by a salesman who opened a small neon sign company and sold this historical landmark to the city for a mere $4,000 (compared to some of the big casinos who spent upwards of $500,000 on their signs). It was designed by a woman name Betty Willis, which was not a common practice in that era. Designing neon signs was usually a man’s job given that it was very technical work and there were not a lot of women in the technical field. Willis designed it in what is known as “googie architecture”, which is a futuristic, modern design theme very popular with restaurants, gas stations and motels at the time. It is also seen as a “Jetsons” era design. And if you don’t know who the Jetsons are, look them up – you won’t be disappointed! Unfortunately for her, Willis did not copyright her design, so now anyone can use the design to make souvenirs of the city. Who knows how many millions she lost from that mistake!

The sign is actually not even located in Las Vegas. It is actually located in the neighboring unincorporated area of Paradise – just like the Las Vegas Strip. It is still seen as the icon and welcome mat to the city (and most locals ignore the distinction between the cities and just refer to the whole metro area as Las Vegas). They fixed this “problem” in 2002 when the city commissioned a replica of the sign and placed it within the city limits of Las Vegas — and just in case we can’t get enough of this iconic sign, they placed another one on the Boulder Highway in 2007.

The sign itself is one of the smaller signs in Las Vegas. Standing at 25 feet tall, it is a classic roadside pole design. It is internally lit and has a boarder of flashing and chasing incandescent bulbs. Since Nevada’s nickname is “the Silver State” it has white neon circles across the top to represent silver dollars. Every time they replace the bulbs on the sign, they are sold as souvenirs and the money is donated to charity. However, this might not happen for much longer given that they are planning to take the sign “green” and make it solar. No doubt, however, that tourists will still flock to see this famous sign. In fact, they even built a parking lot across from the sign so you can visit it and take pictures. You can even get married by one of your favorite impersonators under the sign. Talk about a bright start to your marriage.

On any of our private tours of Las Vegas, we can take you for a stop at the sign for your own personal photograph. Email us or call us at 800-549-8155 to book your tour today!

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