Where Las Vegas Neon Goes to Die / Wall Street Journal / 2012
Stick with Stardust for a moment. As those letters stand here, we can’t really get their full impact. They come from the original sign that made its debut with the casino in 1958. It was just after Sputnik was launched, and tourists were gathering here to watch atomic blasts at the Nevada Test Site. Its font became famously known as “Electra Jag” or, more familiarly, “Atomic.”
The sign was the Strip’s largest, 216 feet long, rising 27 feet above the casino’s first floor, with 11,000 bulbs and 7,000 feet of neon tubing, sparkling with extraterrestrial splendor: it displayed the entire solar system, the Earth at its pre-Copernican center. It has been suggested that the original pinkish lettering matched the color of Vegas’s radioactive dust. The sign made an explosive impact and could be seen for three miles across the desert, a blast in its own right.
One of the most striking signs is from the 1955 Moulin Rouge, its cursive letters curving into elegant patterns in which the art historian Kirsten Swenson fancifully sees a mock-Arabic script — as if invoking the early 20th century’s French African colonies. And, indeed, the Moulin Rouge was advertised as “the nation’s first major interracial hotel” at a time when most casinos made racial “exceptions” only for entertainment. But it closed just months after opening. ➡︎
◼︎ Where Las Vegas Stardust Rests in Peace: The Neon Museum in Las Vegas / Edward Rothstein / The New York Times / 2013