The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

by Libby Zay 
Posted Jan 3rd 2011 11:06 AMUpdated Jan 3rd 2011 02:28 PM


The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

Isaac Brekken, AP

Miles from the glitz, glamour and flashing lights of Las Vegas lies the Neon Boneyard, where neon signs saved from the trash heap go to cash in their chips.

In a city known for being all about stimulation, competition and overabundance, the Neon Graveyard is the other side of the coin. The dusty, three-acre lot is really just a gravel field filled with dead casino marquees, unlit wedding chapel signs, and bygone used car placards.

The neon dinosaurs may have expired from classic Sin City sights, but the old Vegas relics are not forgotten. Since 1996 a team of volunteers has worked to restore the signs, assembling an outdoor "gallery" featuring 10 iconic signs installed along the east end of Fremont Street.

The Neon Boneyard itself has remained a pop culture treasure. Over 150 signs are scattered around the property like alphabet soup, making a great photo opportunity for newlywed couples or history lesson for Vegas visitors: this is where some signs from the prohibition-era and classic imploded casinos are kept, as well as the letters from the first integrated casino, the Moulin Rouge.

Over the past 15 years, the Boneyard has been tucked away from the general public, only viewable twice daily through tours that had to be reserved up to two-weeks in advance.

Recently, people behind the Neon Boneyard announced plans to expand the museum by taking over the historic La Concha Motel lobby, which will act as a visitor's center. The growth will allow the Neon Museum to expand its public hours and offices.

The La Concha Motel, a 1960's curvilinear structure designed by celebrated African American architect Paul Revere Williams, is on the City of Las Vegas Historic Register. The iconic hotel almost fell victim to a bulldozer in 2003, until preservationists swept in and moved the hotel to its new location.

The Associated Press reports the museum has since begun arranging the vintage pieces of plexiglass, steel and fluorescent by era, presenting a chronological narrative. The new museum is expected to open December 2011.

The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

Isaac Brekken, AP

The Neon Sign Museum Illuminates Vegas' History

Isaac Brekken, AP

Filed Under: News

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

I certainly won't be going back there! When their state has one of the worst economies in the US and they re-elect a bafoon like reid that doesn't think there's a problem, well you just can't feel sorry for them! And its certainly NOT a place where I want to spend my money! Maybe they can get all those ILLEGALS to pump money into their vegas casinos$$$ Aren't they suppose to help grow an economy?? As for me, I'll be more than happy to support the Indian Casinos in my state!

January 05 2011 at 11:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The News

Well, LIke most other Industries and Businesses..
The Moeny Was Cheap to Borrow and they just Overbuilt.. and Vegas Itself Became a Big Whale..That need more and stay alive..

And now? Half the town is Abandoned Houses, that were Cheaply built and now worth only 33% of what they originally sold for..

and the Casino's? Way Over Built and Way Over Expanded ..

Want to Know Why It's only Busy at nite? Ever go outside in 120 degree Heat..?
Just set your Oven to 400 Degree's, wait 20 min and then Open The Door with your Face in front of it.. That is what it feels like Going outside durning the daytime..

We Hibernate inside during the day and come out only at nite.. Nocturnal Creatures we were.. From doing everything from Shopping to washing the car to Mowing the Little lawns to fixing our Homes... Or you waited Until the Winter Season..

We actually Looked forward to Winter..
And without being Subcidized for our Electricity by the rest of the Country? Be no way we could afford the A/C or the Elec. Heating needed for your Home..

And to Insulate the place? You need a Min. of 8 Inch Thick walls or Insulation..and 16" in the Cielings..and Tripple Paine Glass..and Shutters to keep the Sun Out.. Or Like Live in a Cave...

It's a Whole Dif.way of life there.. Not for the average Person...

They ought to allow Gamblind In Branson, Mo. and that would be a Much Better Vegas and a better Place to Live..

January 04 2011 at 9:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to The News's comment

To betting joe --- If you don't like it get lost. Are you chained to Las Vegas? No. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the pan and go freeze somewhere else so the rest of us can enjoy the beautiful desert without hearing a sniveler.

January 05 2011 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What does the fact that Paul Revere Williams have to do with his race? Must we always identify people as to race, sexual orientation, or other such trivialitid have to do with the fact that he was a genius?

January 04 2011 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First time I visited Vegas was in 1975 (old Vegas).
I was 20 years old, liquor women, gambling, wow what a great time. My second visit was 1995, Vegas was beginning the big building spree but it was fun
and we enjoyed ourselves. My most recent visit was
August 2009. The place is way to crowded, sidewalks
were just overunning with people of every race, creed and color. Herds of people tromping through the hotels & casinos, it's unbelievable how many frigging people are there.
The class of old Vegas is gone, I'm glad I got to experience old Vegas back in 1975, that's the one I'll remember

January 04 2011 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The folks who think we are the door straight to the river Styx don't really think much. One time back when I worked at the Stardust, a family asked me if I lived in the hotel. They had no idea that there was anything beyond the strip, no schools or churches or homes or anything but the casinos! With a perfectly straight face I told them no, that I commuted every day from California and they actually believed me! Ha ha!

January 04 2011 at 5:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To thinkingperson --- If you don't want to come here, that is certainly up to you, but Las Vegas is NOT all sex and booze and gambling like you think it is. There are many wonderful things to do here that do not involve such things. You can fly over the Grand Canyon, you can go to our ski resort, you can go to concerts of many different musicians and attend comedy shows. You can just stroll around and enjoy the pretty lights and watch free shows all along the strip or you can go downtown and see free concerts and the fabulous light show under the canopy there. You don't have to drink or gamble or go to a strip club. Just saying that many people still have that "Sin City" image embedded in their brains. We are not all bad.

January 04 2011 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
r.l. holly

I lived in Vegas for 45+ years and worked in the sign industry for 20+ years. I have built or worked on a lot of those old signs. Its cool they are preserving them,but now We dont live there,it's not the same place we grew up in,and it hasnt changed for the better. Still love it,just can't handle the riff raft people anymore! No money there right now,people are starving!

January 04 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is a lot more to Las Vegas than the casinos. That is why 2,000,000 folks live in Clark County. Check out the great weather and cost of living for starters!

January 04 2011 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the museum is open to the public, why does the title say "A side of Vegas you rarely see"?

January 04 2011 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i LOVE VEGAS try to get there at least 1 time a year and it does not have to be expensive my favorite place to stay is Sams Town ont expensive great food and great gambling so all you people who put down vegas maybe you should give it another try

January 04 2011 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply