A photographic blogger who lives in Las Vegas would be negligent not to provide an image of the famous “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. So here it is. A less common version than that which appears in millions of vacation happy-snaps. I chose black and white to bring mind the era the sign was born. The era of Old Vegas where the Rat Pack played and the Mob ruled. It was a darker town back then. A colourful image under a bright blue sky wasn’t working for me.
You may be surprised to learn that the sign was designed by a woman. No big deal now, but in 1959 it was. Betty Willis was a commercial artist before she began working for Western Neon. Betty was a trailblazer! Here’s a quote “Most people are surprised when they find out a woman designed the sign. It was a man’s business back then. It wasn’t a woman’s field because when you work with neon signs, you have to not only design them, but you have to learn the nuts and bolts of how neon, light and electricity work. You have to learn about pressure points and weight and wattage of lamps. You work with engineers as well as artists. Most women back then weren’t interested in such technical stuff.”
In an endearing and generous gesture, Betty never claimed copyright for her (now) famous sign. She considered it a gift to the city and wanted it to be in the public domain. This is why you see it on every practically souvenir sold in the city! Betty of course receives no royalties from all these sales. Her gift turned out to be very generous indeed.
These days, the (25 ft/7.6 m tall) sign is positioned at the Southern most end of The Strip, aka Las Vegas Blvd (it’s original location was considerably further North along Las Vegas Blvd). The sign is one of the top attractions in the city. Everyone wants their photograph taken next to it. The city was so concerned about the growing number of people risking life and limb in the middle of a busy street that they built a dedicated car park in 2008. Now there’s no risk involved but don’t think it will be a quick stop. You have to wait your turn and there is *always* a line. Day and night.
The sign is on the official National Register of Historic Places. It’s also the ultimate Vegas souvenir. You can actually own a piece of the Fabulous Las Vegas sign! When the lights are routinely replaced they’re sold. You’re surprised? Hey, this is Vegas Baby. It’s wears a cloak of corporate respectability now, but remember it’s the original, and reigning, Money Town. Location: Las Vegas, USA