Finding great classic neon in old Las Vegas

Classic neon sign in Las Vegas by Jefferson Graham

Anyone who has spent time in the old Las Vegas “Glitter Gulch” remembers the amazing light show the casinos used to put on to attract business. They were huge, blinding, flickering and constantly changing. They were amazing to see.

But in the new Vegas, the great old neon signs have given way to a vertical video billboard of sorts, with images of entertainers, chefs and their food, gamblers and such. And the attractions? Not signs anymore, but giant water shows, replicas of the Eiffel Tower, a huge geodesic dome and the like.

The Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas by Jefferson Graham

As a fan of old Las Vegas, I recently went searching for the old neon, for photographic and aesthetic pursuits, and there’s a lot of it, but for the most part it’s far from the Strip, in the old downtown Las Vegas, where neon is still alive and well.

In the latest PhotowalksTV episode, we bring you with us downtown to Fremont Street, where you find some of the great old neon signs surrounded by light shows and zip liners, and on the sidestreets, home to classics at the California Hotel, El Cortez and the new Circa.

In this episode we take a sidetour to the great old Atomic Liquors sign, home to the first bar in Vegas, circa 1952 and then head over to the Neon Museum.

This is where old signs go to die, and are celebrated in the “boneyard.” For $25, you can tour the great old signs of yore, like the original Golden Nugget and long-gone masterpieces for the Stardust, Riviera and Hard Rock Hotel. You get to walk through a historical potpourri of free air conditioning, steamed heat and cable TV.

Finally, we also check out the two remaining major classics (Denny’s doesn’t count) on the Strip, the Flamingo and the masterpiece, Circus Circus.

I invite you to watch the episode, if you haven’t seen it already, and enjoy photos from the Photowalks Vegas visit. They were all taken on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.



comments so far. Comments posted to may be reprinted in the Easy Reader print edition, which is published each Thursday.