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This year's dining issue of Desert Companion includes not only the 2022 Restaurant Awards, but also a special section called Street Eats, celebrating both fine dining and everyday eating out in Las Vegas.

Sign Times

Collage of Las Vegas signs
YESCO and Neon Museum

A brief history of Las Vegas’ municipal signage, 1951-today

Like moths to a flame, Las Vegas draws millions of visitors (and their wallets) each year — the city’s iconic, iridescent signs pointing to the way to prodigal fun. The famous neon lights also encapsulate our vibrant history, from the timeless “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” to the recently installed giant showgirls. Here’s a look at six of them.

1. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

Location: 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Year: 1959
Designer: Betty Willis
Builder: Western Neon (now owned by Young Electric Sign Company)
Cost: $4,000
Dimensions: 25 feet high x 15 feet wide
Fun fact: Two replicas were made: one in Downtown (destroyed in 2016) and another on Boulder Highway.
Two cents: “Visitors see the sign with the twinkle in it and know they’ve got a license to enjoy themselves.” – Former mayor Oscar B. Goodman, The New York Times (2005)

2. Giant Showgirls

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Location: 1810 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Year: 2022
Builder: YESCO
Dimensions: 50 feet high x 15 feet wide
Weight: 6,800 pounds
Fun fact: The original showgirls (2018) were 25 feet tall and will be moved to the Arts District.
Two cents: “These gorgeous signs will continue to elevate Las Vegas’ image as a world class travel destination beloved by people around the globe.”  – Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Review-Journal

3. Vegas Vic

Location: 25 East Fremont Street
Year: 1951
Designer: Pat Denner
Builder: YESCO
Dimensions: 40 feet high x 20 feet wide
Fun fact: The original sign had its arm waving and would play an audio recording saying, “Howdy Podner!”
Two cents: “The story goes that the cast and crew stayed at a hotel in Vegas, and one night Woody and Lee Marvin got stinking drunk and shot arrows out of their window at ‘Vegas Vic,’ the big neon cowboy sign.” - @OldCarLongRoad, Twitter

4. Vegas Vickie

Location: Glitter Gulch Casino (old); inside Circa Casino (new)
Year: 1980
Designer: Charles F. Barnard
Builder: YESCO
Dimensions: 26 feet high x 20 feet wide
Fun fact: The sign was originally named “Sassy Sally.” In 1994, she was “married” to Vegas Vic and renamed Vegas Vickie. She currently sits at Circa Resorts’ Vegas Vickie Cocktail Lounge

5. Gateway Arches

Location: 1998 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Year: 2020
Designer: Selbert Perkins Design
Builder: YESCO
Cost: $6.5 million
Dimensions: 80 feet high x 140 feet wide
Fun fact: The sign was created after the old Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas sign was hit by a truck in 2016
Two cents: “I am sure these iconic arches will become synonymous with the fun and excitement of our city.” – Ward 3 Councilwoman Olivia Diaz

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6. Paintbrush Gateway

Location: Fourth Street and Charleston Boulevard; Casino Center and Charleston Boulevard
Year: 2010
Artist: Dennis Oppenheim
Dimensions: 45 feet high x 5 feet wide
Fun fact: The paintbrushes were supposed to be built across from each other, but ended up a few blocks away from each other
Two cents: “The New York-based Oppenheim was a controversial choice ... and the arts community has been critical of his concept. But if the project fails, this will be because it is a monument to misplaced priorities. Will an ‘arts district’ even exist in a few years?” – Kirsten Swenson, Desert Companion (Sept. 2010)