One of the most recognizable neon signs of all time is the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign” that greets tourists entering Las Vegas from the town of Paradise, which is just south of the city. This sign has welcomed tourists to the “Vegas Strip” since 1959.
The sign, which was designed by artist Betty Willis (1924-2015), was largely based on the Goodyear Tire logo and the “Googie” architecture movement of the 1950s and early/mid 1960s. The starburst at the top of the sign was inspired by Disney cartoons and movies and is supposed to inspire happiness. The coins which spell out the world ‘Welcome’ have an obvious meaning! On the rear of the sign are reminders to “Drive Carefully” and to “Come Back Soon”.
When it was first built, the sign was virtually out in the middle of nowhere along the Strip, which was nothing more than a desert highway at that time. Nowadays the area around the sign is a fairly congested metropolitan area with lots of buildings and traffic and the sign has become a major Vegas landmark. In 2008, a small parking lot was built in the median to accommodate tourists wishing to see the sign up close and take pictures.
Since its creation, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign has become iconic. It can be found on postcards, T-shirts, and souvenirs of the city. People who want a sign of their own can buy miniature versions of the sign that light up. The sign has appeared in countless movies, TV shows and music videos. It is without a doubt one of Las Vegas’s most beloved landmarks.
(Image copyright: Joao Carlos Medau. Used via Flickr/Wikimedia Commons per CC Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)