Although not as renowned as the Las Vegas Strip, Fremont Street is the oldest attraction in Las Vegas and was constructed when the city was founded back in 1905. In 1906, the Hotel Nevada opened complete with telephone service and a gambling casino. Fremont Street’s connections with U.S. Highways 93, 94 and 446 combined with the newly constructed railroad depot made it possible for anyone looking for excitement to visit the new community. By the end of the decade, Las Vegas boasted 800 permanent residents.
The Boom Began
Construction of the Hoover Dam began, which brought thousands of workers to local bars and the casino. With the dam completed in 1935, the community enjoyed the luxury of electricity, which led to streetlights and the now famous neon signage. In the daytime, Fremont Street resembled any other community main street. Locals shopped in neighborhood stores, filled prescriptions at the pharmacy and bought groceries. However, nighttime was a different story. The glow of the neon signs on Fremont Street led to the eventual nickname of “Glitter Gulch.”
The El Cortez hotel opened in 1941. Soon, other casinos and hotels on Fremont Street followed. The Pioneer Club constructed the famous 40-foot Vegas Vic waving cowboy sign. Vic was later accompanied by Vegas Vicki. However, once the Strip came into existence, the popularity of Fremont Street waned. In order to bring visitors back to the downtown main street, the city planned a renovation project in 1995.
Fremont Street Experience
The first phase of the project involved building an overhead canopy, which spans four blocks of Fremont Street. The location prohibited vehicle traffic and converted into a pedestrian-only zone complete with a Pedestrian Mall. Landscaping and winding paths replaced the asphalt. By 2004, the canopy became the “Viva Vision” screen. A projector, a half-million-watt sound system and 12 million LED lights provide a spectacular light show every hour. The 700 block also features the unique Container Shopping Mall. Additional attractions include the SlotZilla 12-story and the Zoomline 10-story zip lines that span the avenue to individual landing platforms, making today’s Fremont Street a lively place for fun.