Monday, March 17, 2008

Neon Boneyard

Last weekend in Vegas, we finally did something we've heard about for a long time...we visited the "boneyard" owned by the nascent Neon Museum on Las Vegas Blvd. north of downtown in what is emerging as a sort of cultural district. (Yes, yes, "culture" and "Vegas" seem like an oxymoronic combination!)

On a gusty, sandstorm of a day, we trudged with about 20 people around two multi-acre fenced-in lots with a member of the museum's staff for about an hour.

Unfortunately, you're only allowed to take photos if you sign a form saying you won't post them on the web or sell them. That seemed a bit strict, but it was explained that some of the signs in the boneyard are old ones from existing casinos that fear trademark violations. So, they only donated their old signs under these conditions.

My Mom's favorite casino, Stardust, was demolished this year to make way for a new casino development, and the boneyard contained its old sign. One thing I never knew about that sign was that the image was supposed to seem like a nuclear bomb mushroom cloud--commemorating the n-tests 70 miles outside of Vegas! Back then they thought it was something to celebrate. Its futuristic lettering and diamond-like stars seem so cliche today--almost like watching "The Jetsons."

Alison & I had a favorite sign that we used to drive by north on the "Strip" going towards downtown, but that hotel was torn down quite some time ago. Imagine our delight to see the "Tam O'Shanter" hotel sign in the boneyard--complete with the 3 foot diameter illuminated "tartan tam" that sat atop a tall pole and revolved. It was so kitchy, you just had to love it!

Until next time...


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