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Las Vegas Neon Museum – cool vintage signs Part 1

IMG_5268_2Let There Be Neon!
What fun! I’m a typography nut & this place was SO COOL. I took about 170 pics of vintage Las Vegas signage at the Neon Museum on Monday. I’ve trimmed the 1st installment down to just a few.

Most of the photos on my blog have so far been taken with my iPhone 3GS (the first edition of the iPhone). I quit being so lazy and took a real camera with me when we went to Las Vegas. These pics were taken with a little Canon G10. (with the exception of the La Concha Motel image below – it is from the internet).

Our tour guide was a woman in her 50’s who was born and raised near downtown Las Vegas. She had a wealth of knowledge about the manufacture and the refurbishing of these great old signs. She grew up around these signs when they were still being used and had many back-stories to tell. The sign companies typically leased their signs to the businesses, so when the original buildings were remodeled, torn down, or “blown up” they reacquired the old signage. A lot of it was then donated to this Neon Museum.

About the unique visitor center:
Originally located at 2955 Las Vegas Boulevard South, the sweeping arches of the La Concha Motel lobby defined an era. It was built in 1961 by architect Paul Revere Williams for the Doumani family.


The La Concha Motel lobby at its original location (image from the internet)

In 2003, owner Lorenzo Doumani, a family member of the original commissioner of the building, announced plans to demolish the La Concha Motel and construct a new, larger hotel. Aware and supportive of the lobby’s unique historical importance, Doumani promised the structure to the Neon Museum rather than tear it down along with the rest of the property. This colossal task would require community leadership and a cost of around half a million dollars for removal and restoration. In 2006 the shell, made of lightweight concrete, was sectioned into 8 pieces and relocated to the site of the museum at 770 North Las Vegas Boulevard where it was reassembled in 2007.
(Read more about this building’s move to its new location here.)


Detail of the sweeping roof line of the Neon Museum – a section of the original La Concha Motel on The Strip.


Refurbished neon signage from the original La Concha Motel, on display at the Neon Museum. If you go for a night tour this sign and several others are lit up.




© deb davies thorkelson   |    images + words from bluerock
Las Vegas, Monday, November 10th, 2014 – my images were shot with a Canon G10

12 replies »

  1. These photos are so awesome! I’m so glad you shared this! I went to Las Vegas when I was nine and said I’d never go back, but your photos of the neon museum are making me, possibly, rethink that😄


    • There’s a lot of cool stuff going on in Vegas besides the usual… Near downtown there’s an emerging art scene – an arts district with old bungalows that is up & coming, and a really cool Container Park, where all the shops are in steel shipping containers (as in the ones that ships carry goods in). The Tropicana, instead of being blown up and being replaced, has been refurbished in a cool retro Vegas style… hope it’s a continuing trend to save a neat part of architectural history. It seems that every year or two, Vegas changes in some way. There was a major air show on at Nellis Airforce Base last weekend too. We also went to see a classic car show & did other non-Vegas-y stuff. Sure we did our fair share of eating, drinking, and gambling. The main purpose for this trip was to see a concert. It was all great though. Especially the NEON! xo


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