Fremont Street Experience sign to show downtown through decades

The Fremont Street Experience is planning to add an LED sign that pays tribute to downtown’s rich history.

The sign is set to be built on the east side of Main and Fremont streets. The new addition is part of the Fremont Street Experience’s canopy project, a “floor-to-ceiling” renovation on the Fremont Street Experience that includes a $32 million upgrade to its Viva Vision screen.

The display, approximately 27 feet by 14 feet, will offer visitors views of downtown throughout the decades. It could show a still of Fremont Street as a dirt road one moment, then flip to an image of a bustling hangout during the mob era the next. The sign will not be used for any advertisements.

“You’re looking at a porthole in time,” said Patrick Hughes, president and CEO of the Fremont Street Experience. “It’s a fully immersive experience.”

The sign is based on split-flap display boards, a type of mechanical sign often used in railroad stations. Creators chose the animation style as a nod to the Plaza’s history; a train depot once stood on the site where the hotel-casino stands today.

Those historical nods are what a lot of downtown visitors are looking for, according to Hughes. He pointed to examples such as the Mob Museum and the Fremont Street Experience, which displays a handful of “old Vegas” neon signs.

“There’s a massive interest in history and connectivity” among visitors, Hughes said.

The Commission for the Las Vegas Centennial has agreed to provide $225,000 in funding for the project, which costs about $450,000 total and has Steelman Partners acting as the architect. The Las Vegas City Council is set to vote on the funding allocation Wednesday.

Hughes said he expects construction of the sign to start this week and it to be up and running around Dec. 20.

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