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Las Vegas Gateway Arches Lit to Lure Visitors to Downtown Casino District

After the first official lighting Wednesday, the new gateway arches to attract visitors to downtown Las Vegas will be lit every evening at dusk.

The Las Vegas Gateway Arches, seen here in an artists’ depiction, will be lit every night, starting Nov. 18. The arches are at the foot of the Strat Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod. (Image: KTNV-TV)

The gateway arches tower 80 feet above Las Vegas Boulevard at the base of the Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod. Formerly called the Stratosphere, the Strat is just south of the Fremont Street Experience, a downtown pedestrian mall covered with a lighted canopy.

The Fremont Street gambling district, known as Glitter Gulch, is home to some of the region’s most historic hotel-casinos. These include the El Cortez. In the mid-1940s, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and other mobsters briefly owned the El Cortez.

The newest addition to Fremont Street is Circa Resort. It is the first hotel-casino built from the ground up in downtown Las Vegas in 40 years. An adults-only resort, Circa opened its gaming areas on Oct. 28. Some of Cicca’s 777 hotel rooms are expected to be available for use in December.

Circa owner Derek Stevens owns two other properties downtown, D Las Vegas and the Golden Gate. D Las Vegas recently was chosen as the “best” casino in Las Vegas in a USA Today online readers survey.

The Mob Museum, Neon Museum, and other tourism sites are downtown near Fremont Street.

The $6.5-million gateway arches were constructed and installed by YESCO, a company that, for decades, has built neon signs in Nevada. The arches include 13,016 lights and a “pink, retro-inspired Las Vegas emblem suspended above the boulevard,” according to a news release from the city and YESCO.

Critics Unhappy

Critics of the gateway arches said the city should not have spent millions on the project, especially during an economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a good thing the City of Las Vegas has a spare $6.5M lying around and nothing more important on which to spend it,” wrote a Twitter user identified as Andy Eisen.

The City Council approved the gateway arches in 2019. Construction began last March, involving 80 workers, the city website states.

The website also notes that the city is allocating “$24 million on the expansion of the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center.”

In addition to the gateway arches, the city’s effort to highlight the downtown area includes streetscapes with 200 new trees.

‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’

Most of the large casinos in Nevada are on the Las Vegas Strip south of downtown, outside city limits.

The famous resort corridor includes 20 casinos in a three-mile stretch from the Mandalay Bay at the southern end to the Sahara on the northern end at the city limits. Among the resorts on the Strip are the MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, and Wynn Las Vegas.

The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign greets visitors on the Strip’s southern end near McCarran International Airport. This 25-foot-high sign was unveiled in 1959. It is especially familiar to travelers who have arrived on the highway from Southern California throughout the years. It is on the opposite end of the Strip from the new downtown sign.

The older sign’s designer, Betty Willis, died in 2015 at age 91.

Larry Henry

Gaming Regulation, Crime, Politics — Larry Henry is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who spent more than 16 years in Nevada, including serving as legislative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal and as political editor at the Las Vegas Sun. He's also written about popular culture for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. As a broadcast journalist, he worked as managing editor at KFSM-TV, the CBS affiliate in Arkansas, where he now lives and where casino growth is a hot topic. A Marine Corps veteran and LSU graduate, he is also an avid movie fan, especially of classic film noir from the 1940s and ’50s.

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Larry Henry