You've seen it in movies a million times: that big lot out in the desert where all the old neon signs from the abandoned and demolished casinos go to die. In the last year, the Neon Boneyard Park on N. Las Vegas Boulevard, just north of Downtown, has finally been opened to the public. We decided to check it out on a recent visit, and as luck would have it, while we were inquiring about ticket prices, one of the swell folk at Zappos.com walked up to us and said, "Hey, our group had a couple of extra tickets. Want 'em?" Bless the good folk at Zappos.com; we will hear from them again.
Even the vistor center is recycled: It was salvaged from the La Concha Hotel, an Atomic Age design by noted architect Paul Revere Williams. Nice selection of Vegas-themed books in the gift shop, too.
Our docent Denice with the first neon sign in Downtown Las Vegas, for the Golden Nugget.
Lettering from the Moulin Rouge, the first integrated club in Vegas, which flourished briefly in 1955 until annoyed mobsters forced its closure to forestall competition. Designer Betty Willis studied old French manuscripts to come up with the perfect font. (You might recognize another of her designs: the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.)
The original sign for Binion's Horseshoe, one-time home of the World Series of Poker.
There's statuary, too, like this finely detailed vintage pool player, down to the fingernails and mullet.
Once the coolest thing on the Strip, this fearsome skull-and-crossbones adorned the sign at Treasure Island, until its owners foolishly revamped it into TI and replaced it with yet another generic Jumbotron. Now it spends eternity on its back silently screaming at the sky: "WHY?!?!"
Space Age sign for the Stardust, which for a while was accompanied by a giant mushroom cloud.
Finally, an especially sad one for me: the sorely missed Sahara. We may go back sometime to visit it at night; the tickets only cost a couple dollars more...but the signs light up.