Welcome to Las Vegas Sign Turns 65, Did You Know This About it?

Las Vegas, USA - MAR 11, 2019: famous Las Vegas sign at city entrance, detail by night.

Ah Sin City, the town that is ever-evolving and reinventing itself. Such as the Tropicana recently shutting its doors in April 2024 as the property is set to become the new home of the soon-to-be Las Vegas A’s. Or the even more breaking news of the famed Mirage closing its doors for good this coming July 2024 to transform into a new imagining of Hard Rock. Remember there already was one that shut down to become the Virgin Mohegan Casino and it is already going through some changes. All of this is just one month’s worth of news! However, there is one thing that has stayed pretty constant for 65 years now and that is the beloved iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Situated at the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, it is one of the most photographed signs in the world and only comes in at 25 feet tall. In honor of its 65th anniversary this May, here are some other fun facts about the sign.

1It was Designed by a Female

In the 1950s it wasn’t very commonplace for female designers since at the time it was a man’s world, think Mad Men era. But a young art graduate from Los Angeles named Betty Willis took on the challenge while living in Nevada and working as a commercial artist at neon sign manufacturer Western Neon. She continued as a designer until she retired at the age of 77. She passed away in 2018.

2It technically isn’t even in Las Vegas

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign at The Strip on a bright sunny day. Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino tower in background - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - 2020

The sign that is situated at 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South technically isn’t even in the Las Vegas limits. It is the neighboring city of Paradise. As a matter of fact most of the strip is in Paradise, 4 miles to the city limits to be exact. Next time you are there, tag your location on your phone and you will see this.

3It was never copyrighted?

Almost every tchotchke one can think of in Vegas most likely has the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign on it. This is because when it was designed Betty gave it to the city as a gift and meant for it to reside in the public domain which means it is free usage for anyone. What a generous gift! Or Was it? Young Electric Sign Company bought Western Neon where Betty worked in the 1960s and they are rumored to own the sign and lease it to Clark County.

4Built in the Googie architectural style

Date1940 (year approximate) to 1990 (year approximate) Description From Harvey's Hotel and Casino Postcard Collection (PH-00367)

UNLV Special Collections Archive

The sign is very reminiscent of any late 1950s design called the Googie style which was inspired by the Atomic Age and Space Age Retrofuturism style of the period. You know… all those boomerangs, atoms and geometric shapes.

5There is a nod to Nevada’s “Silver State” slogan in it

Up close of Welcome to Las Vegas sign circles

The 7 circles at the top that spell out “Welcome” symbolize silver dollars as a nod to the history of Nevada’s silver rush which earned it the famous nickname oh and coins to gamble with.

6Not always the easiest to get to

Vintage Las Vegas Sign

via vintagelasvegas.com

While most current visitors of the sign know there is a parking lot there in order to easily snag that souvenir picture, given there are no lines, that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t until 2008 that people could safely get to it without risking their lives running across Las Vegas Blvd.

In honor of the 65th anniversary, Clark County is hosting an Instagram photo contest which you can read more about here.

Have you ever visited the sign?


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