Down Memory Lane at the Neon Museum

Silver Slipper Neon MuseumThe opening of the Neon Museum downtown is one of the coolest things that has happened in Las Vegas in awhile. Walking among these signs, it is easy to let your mind wander to the thrilling early days of the Wild West’s little gaming town-that-could. It all started when the Young Electric Sign Company, which made many of the signs, started donating abandoned ones about 20 years ago, the collection dubbed the “Neon Boneyard.” For years, it was tough to get an appointment to tour the outdoor space where neon went to retire. But now, anyone can go! My first visit was during an exciting evening cocktail party with executive director Danielle Kelly, where the signs were illuminated from below, casting an eerie mood on this once-bright beacons of Sin City hedonism. This infamous “Silver Slipper,” which haunted no other than Howard Hughes, is one of the only refurbished signs at the museum. Surprised? It took $100,000 for the slipper to light up again — and it doesn’t even have any neon, only bulbs!

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First glimpse: Las Vegas Neon Boneyard

Neon MuseumTo who-ever says that Las Vegas Strip has no history or culture, I ask… “Are you just jealous?!” Seriously, I live in a desert town built by legally insane (kidding, sort of…) visionaries who decided that an empty Nevadan desert would be the “ideal” spot for a gambling/entertainment metropolis. In the beginning, Sin City was a modest stop for gambling along the highway to L.A. (Genius!) Even now, I can look out my office window and see the the harsh line where our city ends and the desert dirt begins. It took a solid group of artistic, forward-thinking and business-savvy souls to build a city of neon where no one thought it was possible. And now, a dedicated group of downtown historians has opened the “Neon Boneyard,” which is already internationally famous, up to the public. The collection of retired neon signs has been there for a few years, but part of its mystery was always that it was difficult to get an appointment. Now? This absolute treasure is now open to the public.  I was honored to be one of the first people to see the Neon Museum at night, lit up. The tour takes about an hour and is fascinating: There is no excuse not to go. Bring your kids, bring the history buffs, make the tourists tag along. It really is the best of Las Vegas. I will post more soon, but I wanted to whet your appetite first.

Let’s show off this neon jungle history!