Desert Companion

Night bright: Classic signs that still blaze on

El Cortez Hotel

El Cortez
The El Cortez was the first hotel owned by Bugsy Siegel and, unlike the second, it’s kept the original pink neon intact. The rooftop hotel sign is a classic easily imagined in the background of a film noir, while the sideways “GAMBLING” sign is admirable for its forthrightness.


Road Runner RV Park  
Along the Boulder Highway are a number of RV parks, such as the Road Runner, that still boast great signage. (4711 Boulder Highway)


The Blue Angel Motel
Another unique piece of work by the legendary Betty Willis, designer of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, the 25-foot buxom blonde has kept her halo straight (if not illuminated) and gown spotless even as Fremont Street has deteriorated around her. (2110 Fremont St.)


Peter Pan Motel
One of the few Fremont Street motel signs still in working order, this neon silhouette of the boy who never grew up is much-beloved by locals. (110 N. 13th St.)


Sky Ranch Motel
Another Fremont Street classic, the curvaceous script, scattered stars and crescent moon have probably attracted more photographers than tenants. (2009 Fremont St.)

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High Hat Regency Motel

This sign is part of the small, remaining cluster of vintage neon motel signs on the Strip, along with the Holiday and the Fun City signs that boast clown colors and blocky fonts. But the High Hat is classy, as the blue-and-silver palette, curvy script and luminous top hat indicate. (1300 Las Vegas Blvd. S.)


Somerset Shopping Center

Somerset Shopping Center
A giant, groovy sputnik that remains in top tube-shining, bulb-blinking condition, regardless of what’s going on in the strip mall itself. (Las Vegas Boulevard S. and Convention Center Drive)


Lawless Shopping Center
One of the first signs by classic neon designer Brian “Buzz” Lemming (of the Sahara and a number of Fremont Street properties), this is another sign that keeps its glow, despite the vicissitudes of its Lake Mead strip mall location. A mix of fonts topped with a sort of asymmetrical asterisk, it shouldn’t work, but it does. (4100 E. Lake Mead Blvd.)


Circus Circus Porte-Cochere
This great swoop of dazzling pink-and-blue bulbs is one of the few remaining grand casino entrances.


Davys Locker

Davy’s Locker
It’s just a little dive bar off Maryland Parkway, but the sign is a local icon. An anonymous neon-lover footed the bill for a restoration a few years back, but the blue-and-red cartoon fish has recently been dim again. According to the day-shift bartender, they’re currently taking bids to fix the sign — any other anonymous neon-lovers out there? (1149 E. Desert Inn Road) — Lissa Townsend Rodgers

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