Many visitors to Las Vegas are only aware of the strip. Downtown Las Vegas offers a different taste of the city with a down to Earth feel and experience.
Fremont Street, before the Strip, was the main drag of Las Vegas. At a time when the Union Plaza (think Union Pacific Railroad) was the star of Las Vegas, an arriving passenger would exit on to Fremont Street and the Glitter Gulch that was Las Vegas. Today the Plaza is still at the head of Fremont Street, but the Glitter Gulch concept has taken a new turn with the Fremont Street Experience.
The Fremont Street Experience
Looking down Fremont Street from the Plaza Hotel and Casino the street is full of activity. On the street level, there are booths, kiosks, bars, casino hosts, and hostesses beckoning to those on the street. Picture opportunities abound whether the lights, Elvis, Marilyn, a showgirl, Wonder Woman, or any of the other impersonators who stroll the Experience. A variety of music is surrounding everything. That is even before the lights dim and the $70 million Dollar Experience really takes off. Fremont Street is a four-block long pedestrian Mall. Ninety feet above the street, the Viva Vision display system is a canopy of 12.5 million lights with a 550,000 watt sound system. The hourly shows captivate those enjoying the hustle and bustle of the street. The shows are free and rotate through a variety of presentations.
If the Viva Vision Displays are not enough, there are two stages that provide a variety of free musical presentations. Thursday through Sunday each stage has a minimum of three different performances, often tribute bands performing hits that are crowd-pleasers. On holiday weekends the number of shows increases and headline groups is often scheduled. This is in addition to the street musicians entertaining between scheduled shows.
Each of the casinos along Fremont Street also has a variety of lounge entertainment as well as big-name stars in the individual showrooms. With all this activity, it is hard to believe people even find time to gamble. Binion’s, The Golden Nugget, and the other casinos are full of people enjoying this form of entertainment.
Glitter Gulch and the Neon Museum
The name was attached to this section of Fremont Street before it was a pedestrian mall. Cars drove down the street and the neon signs created the glitter. The dream of hitting it big also added to the concept. The showgirls further developed the idea as their rhinestones glittered in the bright lights. Today a section of Fremont Street is used to display several of the classic neon sign for the history of Las Vegas. The Neon Museum is a treasure of Las Vegas. The Fremont Street Gallery features many restored signs and the boneyard acknowledges more is to come. Below are pictures of several that have produced many memories.
A visitor in the know realizes that The Strip is technically not in Las Vegas but, in Clark County. Those who wish that experience might check out City Center or Mandalay Bay. But, the history of Las Vegas and the future of the city are seen in the Downtown, Fremont Street Experience.