12 Things You Never Knew About the Las Vegas Sign
Standing as a symbol and the heart of one of the world's entertainment capitals, the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign has a long history from its futuristic design origins to its popularity as a modern-day selfie spot.
It dates to 1959
Yep, the iconic Las Vegas sign, which greets modern-day visitors as they enter the city, has been around since the days of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and the Rat Pack. Betty Willis, who was one of the first female commercial artists to work on neon signs, designed it, along with other famous signs including those for the Moulin Rouge Hotel and the Riviera Hotel-Casino, two once-iconic Vegas hotels that are both now closed. When this sign was built, this is what it cost to get married in Vegas.
It’s not trademarked
The designer of the famous landmark, Willis, never trademarked her work, so that’s why you see it replicated by companies on everything under the sun from T-shirts and mugs to posters and magnets. So, go ahead, print yourself a T-shirt! Don’t miss these other must-see attractions in Las Vegas that aren’t casinos.
It’s in the style of Googie architecture
Googie what? A style of architecture that developed mid-century in Southern California, Googie, according to Architectural Digest, features futuristic motifs along with large, bright elements designed to capture the attention of passing cars. The Las Vegas sign is an example of this space-age style and its design was also influenced by Walt Disney.
It has a back side
While everyone knows the front of the sign says “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada,” did you know there’s also something on the other side? It doesn’t get often captured in photos, but the flip side of the Las Vegas sign says, “Drive Carefully, Come Back Soon.”
It’s not actually in the city of Las Vegas
Crazy, right? The sign welcoming you to Las Vegas isn’t actually in Las Vegas! Located south of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Boulevard South, the sign actually sits in unincorporated Clark County. It’s technically about four miles south of the Las Vegas city limits. Read on for the famous American landmarks that almost weren’t.
Its seven circles represent silver dollars
The circles that enclose the letters of the word “Welcome” on the sign are designed to look like silver dollars as a tribute to Nevada’s nickname, “The Silver State.”
It’s on the National Register of Historic Places
Not only does the landmark make for great photo ops, it also has historical significance. In 2009, the sign made it onto the list of the National Register of Historic Places where it was noted for its architecture and engineering. Love a good view? Don’t miss these 50 hotel rooms with stellar views.
It’s one of the most popular selfie spots in town
In today’s world of Instagram-worthy destinations, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign has to be at the top of the list. As one of the most popular selfie spots in the city, it gets quite crowded throughout the day. Arrive early for your best chance at a clear shot of you and the sign or aim for sunset for the perfect lighting.
You can park your car to snap a selfie
Because it’s so popular, yet was difficult to access due to traffic, Clark County added a parking lot in 2008, which it expanded in 2015 to accommodate even more visitors. The area also now features crosswalks and pedestrian-activated traffic signals to improve safety. Check out Instagram’s most photographed hotels.
It turns colors
The Las Vegas sign gets into the spirit of the season by changing colors for special events. Its regular bulbs have been replaced with pink bulbs in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October; red, white, and blue bulbs for military appreciation; and it’s even gone entirely green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s powered by solar energy
The Las Vegas sign is even environmentally friendly, using renewable energy! In 2014, Clark County installed three “solar trees” by the sign, which provide enough solar-powered electricity to offset its power usage.
It’s 25 feet tall
Standing 25 feet tall, the Las Vegas icon is about two and a half stories and is topped by an eight-pointed starburst. While it pales in comparison to some of Vegas’ mega-hotels, it still holds its own. You’ll also find exactly 94 light bulbs outlining the sign. See if you can you guess these famous cities based on their skylines.