New Las Vegas Archway Highlights Downtown Casino District, Provokes Critics

Posted on: September 5, 2020, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2020, 03:32h.

A new archway spanning Las Vegas Boulevard near the downtown casino district is set be lit up in several weeks.

Las Vegas gateway
A $6.5-million gateway to downtown Las Vegas is under construction near the Strat hotel-casino. This composite photograph shows what the completed project will look like. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Much of the construction work on the $6.5-million archway is nearly complete. But the project won’t be wrapped up until workers can finish installing the electrical components that will light the arches, according to Jace Radke, senior public information officer for the City of Las Vegas.

The electrical work is expected to be finished by the end of October or early November, Radke said in an email to

Towering 80 feet above Las Vegas Boulevard near the Strat Hotel, Casino & SkyPod, the archway is part of the city’s effort to highlight the downtown district just north of there. The idea for the archway came after a pickup truck crashed into a nearby “Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas” sign and destroyed it in 2016.

The archway will include a City of Las Vegas emblem.

The Strat, formerly called the Stratosphere, is in the city limits south of the Fremont Street Experience, a downtown pedestrian mall covered with a lighted canopy. The Mob Museum, Neon Museum, and other tourism sites are downtown near Fremont Street.

In addition to the archway, the city’s effort to highlight downtown Las Vegas includes a showgirls sign north of the new archway, and streetscapes adding 200 trees to the area.

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

The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign designed by Betty Willis has been in place since 1959 at the southern end of the Strip near McCarran International Airport.

Critics Take City to Task

Critics of the archway have taken to social media sites such as Twitter to blast the city for spending millions on the project, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, which has hampered the economy since infection rates began to rise starting in mid-March.

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.

A Twitter user identified as Bill Townsend tweeted that the money “could have provided meals for the thousands of unemployed Las Vegas residents.”

The City Council approved the project in September 2019 with money from the general fund, according to the city website. Construction began in March, employing about 80 people from different construction trades, the website states.

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

Glitter Gulch Revival

The downtown casino district is undergoing a revival with the construction of the $1-billion Circa Resort. The casino district is centered on Fremont Street, known as Glitter Gulch.

The Circa is being built at the western end of Fremont Street in one of the historic parts of the city, near where the now-demolished train station once stood. The Plaza hotel-casino, then called the Union Plaza, was built at the site of the train station in 1971 and is still in operation.

The Circa is expected to open in two stages, with gaming areas operating as soon as next month, and hotel rooms available by the end of the year.