Busting Vegas Myths: Welcome to Travel in Las Vegas Sign


Published on: January 22, 2024 at 08:13 pm.

Last updated on: January 22, 2024 at 04:34 h.

We busted the myth that the Las Vegas Strip has official limits last month. In that edition, we reported that the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas (WTFLV) sign could be moved several miles south to accommodate the inevitable future expansion of the strip.

Welcome to the great Las Vegas sign
The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is on display today. Make a mental note of how visible Mandalay Bay is in the background. It will come in handy later. (Photo: lasvegasthenandnow.com)

Why didn’t we mention that the sign has been moved south since it was installed in 1959 for the same reason? Because this is a myth.

vital sign

Sometime in the summer of 1959, the WTFLV sign was installed by the sign company Western Electric Displays, known as Western Neon. The idea to officially welcome motorists from Southern California came from the company’s sales representative, Ted Rogich, and the design was drawn by commercial artist Betty Willis.

They wanted something that would set Las Vegas apart and be as exciting and welcoming as possible. Willis told a blogger at the Neon Museum shortly before her death in 2015. “We put in bright lights, chasing neon, and everything we could to put work into it. The underlying theme of the sign was to make people feel welcome.

Riviera sign in September 1961. (Photo: Vintagelasvegas.com)

The primary inspiration for the design came from the sign on the Riviera. Welcome messages were presented in the form of silver dollars that came flowing out of the slot machine hitting the jackpot that everyone was hoping to hit at the time.

Instead of the Riv brand triangle, Willis chose a standard hotel key chain as the main shape of its brand.

A WTFLV sign was installed next to the old entrance to McCarran Stadium, today’s Harry Reid International Airport. This location was chosen because it was the southernmost limit of casino resort development at the time. Pretty much everything beyond that was untouched desert.

However, development moved south along Las Vegas Boulevard in the decades that followed. So, some people incorrectly assume that the sign should move with it.

Fake news

The legend of the WTFLV mobile sign was first reported as fact by a 1998 magazine story Las Vegas Journal Review Which has never been pulled or uploaded to the Internet. However, it was influential enough to get a mention on the sign’s registration form for its 2009 designation on the National Register of Historic Places.

“There are reports that the banner has been moved.” The form was read, noting that there was no documentation with Clark County or YESCO (the current owner of the sign) to verify this.

there He is Photographic evidence proves it was never moved. You just have to know where and how to look for it.

In this first known WTFLV brand image, Hacienda, inset, the casino hotel occupying the future site of Mandalay Bay, can be seen in the background. (Photo and entry: Vintagelasvegas.com)

Mandalay Bay was located 0.4 miles or 2,112 feet north of the sign today. So did the Hacienda Casino Hotel, which was demolished on December 31, 1996 for the construction of Mandalay Bay.

In the background of the first known photo of the WTFLV sign, taken by an anonymous tourist in September 1959, the Hacienda appears further away than Mandalay Bay appears in modern photographs. But this is just an illusion created because the original Hacienda was a three-story building, while Mandalay Bay is more than 14 times longer.

This proves that the WTFLV sign was installed in its exact location today, because if the sign were moved, the farm would be visible closer In the old photo.

the Nevada State Journal Reports on the Clark County Commission’s request for proposals to build the new sign on February 6, 1959. (Photo: Newspapers.com)

Understood myth

As with many myths, this one has flourished in the scarcity of information about its subject.

In fact, the reason we write that the sign was installed “sometime in the summer of 1959” is because no one knows for sure when this event occurred because it was not considered an event at all.

At the time, no one knew that the WTFLV sign would become the global symbol it is today, second in signage popularity only to the Hollywood sign. Therefore, no celebrations were held on the occasion of laying its foundation stone, completing it, unveiling it, or lighting it up.

There are not even any known photos of its construction.

After being approved by the Clark County Commission on May 5, 1959, the sign was not mentioned in any newspaper until months after it actually went up and flashed.

Look for “Vegas Legends Busted” every Monday Casino.org. Visit VegasMythsBusted.com to read pre-busted Vegas legends. Do you have a suggestion for a Vegas legend that needs busting? Email corey@casino.org.

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