LAS VEGAS FIVE OBSCURE THINGS ABOUT FREMONT STREET

Dated: 10/16/2015

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For "classic Las Vegas," many will point to the Rat Pack-"mobster" point in the city's timeline, but Fremont Street and downtown Las Vegas existed years before the Strip, and even years before the actual city became incorporated. After the installation of a train depot in downtown, it quickly became the center of Las Vegas' universe, eventually becoming known as a place for gambling and sin, as many locals know today.


Here are five things you might not know about Fremont Street:


• The Nickname "Glitter Gulch" Has Obvious Origins:
Decades before "theme" casinos were the norm on the Las Vegas Strip, Fremont Street gained a reputation for the abundance of neon signage and lighting. According to historian Michael Green in his book "Nevada: A History of the Silver State," Las Vegas' Chamber of Commerce named the street's casino district "Glitter Gulch" around its combination of neon and the Old West in the 1930s.


As long-time locals know, the street's glitter dimmed a few decades later with the rise of the Las Vegas Strip.


• Hotel Nevada Opened With The First Casino In 1906:
When Clark County and Las Vegas were yet to exist, Hotel Nevada opened with the first phone in Southern Nevada and a casino later called Sal Sagev (Las Vegas backwards). The hotel was rebranded as the Sal Segav in 1931, when gambling was legalized in Nevada again, the Review-Journal reported in 2012. The hotel-casino in 1955 turned into the Golden Gate, still on Fremont today.


A hotel of the same name opened in 1929 in Ely as the tallest building in the state, at the time at six stories. Green wrote the hotel-casino ignored anti-gambling laws and Prohibition, which ended in 1933.


• "Vegas Vick" Was A Turning Point For Neon In Las Vegas:
Vegas Vick, the unoffical name of the 40-foot neon cowboy on Fremont Street, has been there for over 60 years. He was installed with the Pioneer Club, which no longer operates as a casino. It was the first major time that neon had been used in designs straying from script, setting a stage for neon in Las Vegas. Young Electric Sign Company commissioned designer Pat Denner to design the piece, based on the popularity of cowboys, according to Richard Moreno's book "Nevada Curiosities."


• When The El Cortez Opened It Was Really Expensive:
According to Green, the El Cortez, still one of Fremont's more historic landmarks, opened in 1941 with a rate of six dollars a night per room, which was more than double the usual rate at the time. Using an inflation calculator, that equates to about $97 today. A regular room at the El Cortez during a weekday in October 2015 runs between $20 and $30. A suite on the weekend also stays under $100.


• It Did Not Go From "Great Times In The 1950s" To "Great Times In The 1990s":
As many Las Vegas locals are aware, but not many tourists, Fremont Street lost a bit of steam in the 1980s rolling into the 1990s and early 2000s. Through the decades, hotels, casinos and attractions came and went, and downtown lost its reputation as a great place to go out and have fun. In the mid-1900s, Fremont Street was where residents would go for just about anything from pizza to shopping for new clothes and hardware supplies, according to Classic Las Vegas. Only in the past decade has Fremont Street regained some of that reputation, becoming a social hub under the Downtown Project, among other efforts.


By Kristen DeSilva - Las Vegas Review Journal

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Bart Austin

"There is no substitute for experience!" Growing up on Long Island, N.Y., Bart learned many things from his mom, who was a real estate attorney. He worked as a buyer in retail sportswear in New York u....

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