More Thoughts On The Destruction Of Fremont Street

I’ve shown this photo before, but it’s worth reposting:


If nothing else, just for the laugh factor.  Yes, that’s me.  Yes, that’s 1978.  Yes, everything was a lot more brown and yellow and orange in the 70s, fact.

That is the corner of Main and Fremont Street, downtown Las Vegas.  Fremont Street doesn’t look anything like that anymore.  In fact, this the most recent picture I’ve taken:

Fremont Street blog

I’ve talked before about how much I dislike the canopy.  Just to review, I really dislike the canopy.  A lot.  Like, equal to a swarm of hornets in my britches level of dislike.  However, there are two projects going on simultaneously that, in my humble opinion, are set to fully destroy the old Fremont Street forever.  This first is the Slotzilla zip line at the east end of Fremont:

Slotzilla blog panorama small

The other is this stage, or whatever, on the west end

Fremont Street stage 1 blog

Which means that the Las Vegas Club sign, which used to be merely obscured, is now going to be almost completely hidden.  I mean, honestly, just look at this:

Fremont Street stage blog

Friends, I don’t want it to seem like I am against change, I am not. I don’t want you to think I am against development, for the most part, I am not.  But, as the top picture shows, I have a history with this place.  No, I’m not a local, but I grew up visiting here.  I come from a family of gamblers, and every year our idea of a vacation was to come to Vegas several times a year.  And we always stayed downtown.  Always.

Mom hated The Strip.  Hated it.  All the “real” gamblers were downtown, she said.  The Strip was for tourists.  We were gamblers.  She is one of those people who would forever swear that Vegas was better when The Mob ran the place.  The streets where safer, the entertainment was better, the food was better, she would say.  Little old ladies could walk around with their buckets of quarters without fear of being mugged.  Back when the machines took real money.  And the casinos hired real people to help make change.  And chat.

So much has changed with Vegas.

As I said before, however, I am not against change.  But, I am against wanton destruction.  And that is exactly what is happening here.

Fremont Street stage 2  blog

Just to be clear, I have no solutions.  I have nothing to contribute other than say that it was better back in the old days.  And, maybe, that’s what bothers me most.  I see this happening to my beloved Fremont Street and I just feel helpless.  And a bit lost.  I’m almost 45 years old and I can feel it creeping in, that attitude of almost constant nostalgia.  I struggle to see positive signs in the changes that are happening downtown, and I do hope they are there.  I desperately want to support the revitalization of downtown.  Maybe the positives are just easier to see for someone in their twenties.  Or, someone who fits in at Commenwealth.  Who knows.

All I know is that I cannot stand this stage.  I cannot stand SlotZilla.  I cannot stand the continued wanton destruction of my beloved Fremont Street.  Do I wish that it return to it’s previous state; run down, shabby, scary at night?  A little like it felt after the circus left town?  I’ll tell you this, it had character.  Downtown, ultimately, is losing its character.  It’s being scrubbed down, deloused, shaved, given a shiny new suit that fits a bit too tight around the waist, and told to stop laying about and playing the blues until three in the morning and that it needs go out and get a real job and earn some real money.

Know this, gentle reader, the “real” gamblers have all left Fremont Street by now.  It’s all safe bets from here on out.

And there is nothing we can do about it.

Now get off my lawn.


3 thoughts on “More Thoughts On The Destruction Of Fremont Street

  1. Yes. Yes. Yes. Fremont Street is permanently ruined now……….. SlotZilla is the final nail in the coffin. I have fond memories of cruising up and down Fremont Street in a little blue VW bug when I was in High School. Additionally, I worked for eight years at the Four Queens where my office window looked down on Casino Center and Fremont Street. It was a very different Fremont Street then. Over the past number of years, I’ve been nonplussed by the Canopy but have enjoyed being on the Street doing photographic work a couple of nights a month….it’s always interesting and trashy. But it is NOT the soulful old ‘Vegas’ Fremont Street. That ‘left the building’ years ago and will not return. Fremont Street is now like some hacked Carnival walkway with little of it having to do with Las Vegas or Downtown. It is now about people dressed in costumes wanting $5 to have their picture taken with you, bars on the sidewalks where you can buy a “yard’ of a crappy cheap pink drinks, lousy graphics on the overhead Canopy, and herds of people. Not even the light bulbs in the old signs are ‘traditional’ incandescent anymore. They have been replaced with cold fluorescents (I did a photographic thesis on this for my Las Vegas Document class.) The ‘heat’ of the old Vegas signage replaced with lackluster soul sucking florescent. (Nod to energy efficiency nevertheless.) You and I saw what real soul Fremont Street had. We are lucky for that. And, everything your Mom said. True. Downtown Las Vegas used to be run by ‘families,’ Binion (Horseshoe), Gaughan (Plaza), Jeannie Hood (Four Queens), Wynn (Golden Nugget) were just a few. Now it is run by corporations. The Fremont Street ‘soul’ is gone forever. And none of that is, sadly, ever coming back. I just wish I had WAY more photographs of it in its real Vegas days.

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