Share on Facebook

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.

Famous sign welcoming visitors to Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.Stock Connection/Shutterstock

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.

Baseball caps, Las Vegas, Nevada, USANorbert Eisele-Hein/Shutterstock

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.

JAPAN-SEPT 9: Futuristic gas station in Nagasaki, Japan on Sept. 9, 2009. Built in the style of Googie architecture, influenced by car culture and the Space Age and associated with the 1950s and 1960s.cdrin/Shutterstock

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.

Drive carefully sign Las Vegas Nevada USAEye Ubiquitous/Shutterstock

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.”

Las Vegas Boulevard street sign at night.Eric Baker/Shutterstock

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.

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada sign Las Vegas Nevada USAEye Ubiquitous/Shutterstock

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.”

WELCOME SIGN - LAS VEGAS STRIPCHARLES SYKES/Shutterstock

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.

Tourists pose for photos in front of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign that has flowers honoring the people who died in a mass shooting on Sunday in Las Vegas on . A gunman opened fire on an outdoor music concert on Sunday making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. But even though the city is in mourning, for many it is business as usual with celebrations and parties continuingAP/REX/Shutterstock

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.

romantic couple taking selfie by welcome to las vegas sign with smart phoneJoshua Resnick/Shutterstock

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.

Entrance sign Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesMaks Ershov/Shutterstock

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.

" Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas " sign on a bright sunny dayView Apart/Shutterstock

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.

 The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign in Las Vegas, Nevada USAf11photo/Shutterstock

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.

 

Lyn Mettler
Lyn Mettler is an Indianapolis-based lifestyle writer, who has written for MSN.com, US News & World Report, FoxNews.com, TODAY Show online among others. She blogs about how to travel for less using miles and points on GotoTravelGal.com and is the author of "The Step-by-Step Guide to Earning Your Southwest Companion Pass."