Nevada ended its frontier ways in 1909 when it made gambling illegal to project a sense of civilized modernity to the rest of the nation. Just 22 years later, it voted gambling back as an economic panacea to fight the Great Depression. The postcard view of Fremont Street west from 1st Street to the Union Pacific Railroad Station shows a western town before the influence of casino gambling where the downtown Main street is directly tied to the railroad responsible for laying the city out in 1905.

Hotel Nevada, last building on the left before the Plaza trees, had gambling when it opened in 1906, lost it with gambling prohibition in 1909 and brought it back with its repeal in 1931. It still operates as the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino.


Fremont Street west from 2nd Street a year after notorious Los Angeles racketeer, Guy McAfee opened the Golden Nugget. Even older, Hotel Apache with its Eldorado Club opened in 1932 to cater to workers toiling at the nearby Boulder Dam construction site. Likewise, the next-door Boulder Club opened in 1933 with the big YESCO sign going up three years later. Benny Binion took over the Apache in 1951, and then the Boulder Club after it burned in 1960. Down the street, the Frontier Club was opened by Guy McAfee in 1939, and the Pioneer Club opened in an old downtown building at the corner of 1st Street in 1942.


Fremont Street west from 1st Street showing Vegas Vic, the iconic cowboy put up for the Pioneer Club by the Young Electric Sign Company in 1951. Originally, both of Vic’s arms moved as he bellowed out, “Howdy, Pardner!” Across the street, the Las Vegas Club moved into the old Overland Hotel in 1949 and erected what was then Las Vegas’s tallest sign. The Pioneer Club closed in 1995, but Vegas Vic still stands.


Fremont Street west from 2nd Street at the height of its Glitter Gulch years. Sticking with its Western ‘49ers’ theme, the Golden Nugget had YESCO erect a massive, rooftop neon sign in 1950. The Lucky Strike Club opened four years later with their own addition to Las Vegas’s sign skyline along with two giant gold panners. By this time, Benny Binion had already taken over the Apache Hotel for his Horseshoe Club.


Fremont Street west from 2nd Street showing the 1963 transformation of the Lucky Strike Club into the ultra-Modern Lucky Casino, its two giant gold panners banished to a roadside casino out near Hoover Dam. Del Webb’s Mint Casino opened in 1957 with the hotel breaking ground five years later, following in the footsteps of the Fremont Hotel Casino, which opened as the city’s first modern high-rise hotel in 1956.


Fremont Street west from 1st Street in the decade before the Fremont Street Experience, the two-block long canopy, sound & light extravaganza completed in 1995. With much of the action out on The Strip by the 1970s, Fremont Street became home to tawdry souvenir shops and bargain basement slot parlors. The Union Plaza was the last modern casino-hotels to go up before the Experience, completed over top of the old piazza in 1971. Vegas Vic got his girlfriend, Vegas Vickie, in 1980. I’m sure he was thrilled. Vic was 31 years-old by then and Vickie was built to shill for the Glitter Gulch strip club for the few years it was opened. It was next to Sassy Sallie’s, a slot grind debuting in 1981. In 2000, Sallie’s became Mermaid’s, home of the deep-fried Twinkie.

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