Downtown Las Vegas: A Historical Perspective

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Downtown Las Vegas: A Historical Perspective

Long before Bugsy Seigel envisioned the Flamingo Hotel/Casino and long before the Las Vegas Strip was populated by pirates, volcanoes, castles or pyramids, there was downtown Las Vegas.

Since the city was first established in 1905, downtown Las Vegas--Fremont Street, in particular--has been an integral part of the community and in the gaming industry's forefront.

Fremont Street has been the site of numerous "firsts" in Las Vegas: the first street to be paved (1925); the first traffic light; the first elevator (the Apache Hotel in 1932); and the first high-rise (the Fremont Hotel in 1956). When gaming was legalized in 1931, the first Nevada gaming license was issued to the Northern Club at 15 E. Fremont Street. Meanwhile, the Horseshoe was the first casino to install carpeting while the Golden Nugget was the first structure designed from the ground up to be a casino.

"By the time the El Rancho opened as the first casino on the Las Vegas Strip in 1941, downtown Las Vegas had 36 years of history," said Donald D. Snyder, president of The Fremont Street Experience Limited Liability Company. "The Fremont Street Experience, the next phase of the street's evolution, is being designed to help revitalize Downtown Las Vegas and return this part of the community to a place of prominence in the gaming industry."

In the 1940s the emergence of neon began to transform a drab Fremont Street into Glitter Gulch. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce unveiled Vegas Vic --an icon for Fremont Street--in 1947, and Wayne Newton opened at the Fremont Hotel/Casino in 1956.

The Fremont Street Experience, the cornerstone for the comprehensive redevelopment of downtown Las Vegas, is a private/public partnership between The Fremont Street Experience Company--owned by the collection of downtown casino operators--and the City of Las Vegas.

Like the entrepreneurial spirit that built downtown Las Vegas, today's leaders are using that same independent and enterprising nature to make the Fremont Street Experience the catalyst for downtown's future as a viable economic core and attraction for tourism.

"We salute those who built downtown -- Binion, Boyd, Gaughan and others -- who provided the guiding force for the future of Las Vegas," Snyder said. "Today, public officials and private-sector business leaders are committed to a downtown Las Vegas that will grow and prosper into the next century."

Fremont Street Experience
Information provided by the Fremont Street Experience - Las Vegas (1995)