Las Vegas, NV, Part II: Fremont Street
After our mishap with the car, Paul spent two days getting the new base plate installed and getting the car put back together. There was a lot of stooping, bending, sitting on the ground and getting up and down. The weather was hot, and Paul was pretty tired; but we came to Vegas to see the sights, so after finishing the work, getting cleaned up and having dinner, we decided to drive downtown to see Fremont Street after dark.
Fremont Street is a taste of old Las Vegas. The street dates back to 1905 when Las Vegas was first founded. It was the first paved street in Las Vegas in 1925, and it got the city's first traffic light in 1931. Although there was a lot of gambling going on in Las Vegas even before it was legalized, the Northern Club on Fremont Street was among the first legal casinos when it got one of the original six gaming licenses in 1931.
As the popularity of gambling increased so did the number of casinos. Casinos that were not in downtown Las Vegas on Fremont Street were restricted to outside the city limits. The first hotel/casino on what is today considered to be The Strip was built in 1941. The Strip is still outside the city limits of Las Vegas and is located in the town of Paradise.
While newer hotels
on The Strip use lavish and flamboyant architecture to lure in customers, the Fremont Street casinos attracted attention with neon earning the Fremont Street the nickname "Glitter Gulch." Fremont Street
was the classic view of Las Vegas shown in just about every TV show and
movie that wanted to show the lights of Las Vegas. Most of the old casinos are still there, and one of the classics is the Golden Nugget.
Another Fremont Street classic is the sign called "Vegas Vic," which is a cowboy that is displayed in front of what used to be the Pioneer Club. The Pioneer Club is now a souvenir shop.
In the 1990s, a cooperative venture of downtown casinos began to look for ways to draw more people to the downtown area. The idea that eventually was selected was to close most of the western end of Fremont Street to traffic and to build a pedestrian mall covered by vaulted canopy. You can see part of the canopy in the two above photos.
Twelve million LEDs cover the underside of the canopy and make up what is in effect the worlds largest video display. The 5 blocks of Fremont Street under the canopy are known as the Fremont Street Experience. Beginning about dark (8:30 PM when we were there), and then every hour on the hour until 1:00 AM, there is a light and music show that lasts about 6 or 8 minutes.
We had time to walk up and down Fremont Street before the first show. There was plenty of opportunity to people watch. The person in the platform shoes was a male, complete with bare, hairy chest, and he is talking to one of at least half a dozen guys dressed like Elvis.
There was one fellow doing paintings with cans of spray paint. He would spray areas of the painting, then spread and blend the paint with tissues or with his fingers. He worked very quickly. We didn't watch him do the whole painting; but judging by the progress he was making, a painting would take him less than half an hour.
Most of his paintings had a Las Vegas theme showing some of the well known hotels like the Luxor pyramid and the tall tower of the Stratosphere.
And there was a pretty good sax player who was entertaining the crowd. We listened until a few minutes before the light show was scheduled to start, then we moved to an area that was less crowded.
When it's time for the show to start, the lights on the whole street go out - a rare sight for Las Vegas. The show we saw was set to the music of Don McLean's 1970s classic American Pie. As the music started, images of the 1970s began dancing on the ceiling.
After Fremont Street, we drove down The Strip. Traffic was heavy, and there were hundreds of people walking up and down the street. Things seemed to be at least as busy as they were when we were in Vegas back in 2007. Paul was tired after all his work on the car, so we called it a night and headed back to the motor home. We'll have info on another side of Las Vegas in our next post.