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The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) is a pedestrian mall and landmark in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada. FSE occupies the five westernmost blocks of Fremont Street, including the area known for years as “Glitter Gulch” and parts of some other nearby streets.
Downtown Las Vegas Fremont Experience
The centerpiece is a barrel-vaulted canopy 90 feet (27 m) high at the top and four blocks, or approximately 1,375 feet (419 m), in height.
Fremont Street Experience Pedestrian Mall, Las Vegas, Nevada, Usa Stock Photo
While Las Vegas is known for never turning off the lights outside the casino, every show begins with a blackout in all buildings, including the casino, under the canopy. Before each show, one of the two-way streets that crosses the Experice is closed for safety reasons.
Concerts, usually free, are also held on three stages. The Vue has become a major tourist attraction in downtown Las Vegas and is also home to SlotZilla and the city’s annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
Fremont Street was home to Las Vegas’ first hotel (the Nevada Hotel in 1906, the first day of the Golden Gate), the first telephone (1907),
First paved street (1925), first Nevada gaming license – issued to the Northern Club at 15 E. Fremont St, first traffic light, first elevator (Apache Hotel in 1932) and first high-rise building (Fremont Hotel in 1956). The Horseshoe was the first casino to install carpeting, while the Gold Nugget was the first building designed from the ground up as a casino.
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For years, the west side of Fremont Street was the location most often depicted where producers wanted to show the lights of Las Vegas. The large number of neon signs earned the area the nickname “Shining Gorge”.
By 1992, 80 percent of the Las Vegas casino market was located on the Las Vegas Strip. Hotels and casinos in downtown Las Vegas sought to build an attraction that would attract more visitors to their businesses. After Paramount Pictures head Stanley Jaffe refused to approve a proposal to build a life-size Starship, the Fremont Street Experience was chosen as the project.
FSE, LLC is a cooperative venture owned and operated by a downtown hotel/casino group (including eight hotel/casinos) as a separate corporation responsible for the financing, development and management of the Fremont Street Experice.
It was the second project in Las Vegas by architect John Jerd, whose firm was paid about $900,000 by the city of Las Vegas to create a concept show for downtown.
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Jerde’s design included a floating celestial parade that was to be suspended from the canopy. The concept was adopted by the Fremont Street Experience as well as the city of Las Vegas. In the end, Jerde’s sky parade concept was scrapped, but the canopy’s architectural design was executed.
Local architect of record Mary Kazlowski Architect Inc. Jerda cited the following as problems with the heavenly parade concept:
A new concept for the show was needed quickly, as the funds were already in place and the general schedule was determined. The concept of the exhibition as it exists now was conceived by architect Mary Kozlowski, who grew up in Las Vegas and knew and loved Fremont Street. It was a light show on the bottom of the dome – the largest and most spectacular in the world. Peter Smith, executive vice president of Atlandia Design, recognized the concept’s beauty and practicality. Jerde, FSE and the city of Las Vegas embraced the concept of the show.
Kozlowski’s concept was to use a combination of four colored bulbs for “light”, which allowed for a full spectrum of colors. Young Electric Sign Company assisted with the construction of the test panels and the final installation. Once the Fremont Street Experice was up and running, the light bulbs were checked every night to make sure they were all working properly. To accomplish this large-scale event, the length of the canopy was divided into panels. Each panel was tested by turning on each of the four colored light bulbs individually. An elevator maintenance worker would replace the bulbs that failed. The most expensive bulb cost almost $15 to replace.
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The canopy was expected to cost $63 million. Downtown casino owners pledged $18 million to help pay for the project, and they supported a two percent increase in the room tax for most downtown hotels. The Las Vegas Redevelopmt Agcy also agreed to provide about $27.6 million to build a parking garage and pay for street improvements. The city wanted Las Vegas to pay the remaining $6 million for the project.
On September 7, 1994, a five-block stretch of Fremont Street was permanently closed to vehicular traffic, and on September 16, major repairs were made. After that, the excavation of the street and the installation of support posts continued until December. On February 15, 1995, the space frames were brought in and the roof began to take shape. The last part was installed in July 1995.
The official public viewing was held concurrently with the Nevada Symphony Concert. The light show opened on December 14, 1995. The first New Year’s party took place on December 31, 1995.
In 1996, a horse and rider neon sign from the Hacida Hotel-Casino was placed on FSE’s East Trans, at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. It was added by the Neon Museum.
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Permanent stages were added in the early 2000s, eliminating the need to introduce temporary stages for each EVT. The sound system was upgraded in June 2001.
On June 14, 2004, a $17 million upgrade was unveiled that included an LED display with 12.5 million and more color combinations than the original incandescent display.
An initial investment of $70 million and continued improvements have resulted in a successful and ongoing downtown redevelopment. The city of Las Vegas and downtown casinos are a good fit, as over 60% of downtown visitors are drawn to the light show and stage shows and stay to enjoy the attractions of nearby casinos.
In May 2019, the $32 million video screencast began broadcasting and was expected to be completed in six months. New LED lights will make the screen four times the resolution and sev times brighter than before.
Fremont Street Experience In Las Vegas
The upgrade was designed and manufactured by Watchfire Signs of Illinois. A smartphone app was also being developed that would allow patrons to choose the next song to be played on Fremont Street, as well as allowing them to watch the canopy show on their phone.
In November 2019, plans were announced for a new 27-by-14-foot LED sign that will display images of Fremont Street throughout its history. The sign, part of which costs $32 million, will be built on the east side of Main Street and Fremont Street and is expected to open next month.
Work on a video demonstration of the canopy was completed in December 2019, and the official opening is scheduled for New Year’s Eve.
The LED display “canopy” covering the Viva Vision show runs along the Fremont Street Experience from Main Street to Fourth Street. The canopy is held up by 16 columns, each weighing 26,000 pounds and capable of supporting 400,000 pounds and 43,000 supports.
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Containing 130,000 square feet of display space, the canopy is the world’s largest video screen. Originally, about 2.1 million incandescent lamps were placed in the dome. After the modernization was completed in 2004, more than 12 million LED lamps illuminate the upper canopy.
On December 31, 2019, a more advanced digital canopy was introduced. Manufactured by Watchfire Signs, a Danville, Illinois-based company, the newest Viva Vision display is seven times brighter and four times higher resolution than the previous LED version. With more than 49 million energy-efficient LEDs and a brightness of 5,000 nits, the new canopy can operate during daylight hours.
Inside the canopy itself are 220 speakers with a 550,000-watt amplifier. Light and sound shows are held daily starting at 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Viva Vision.
SlotZilla at the Fremont Street Experice is a 12-story slot-inspired attraction. SlotZilla offers flyers two levels of lines, the lower “Zipline” (77 feet up) and the upper “Zoomline” (114 feet up). The lower lines run halfway through the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian shopping area. The overhead lines run the length of the mall bus (1,750 feet). Guests on the upper “Zoomline” travel prone, or “superhero style.” SlotZilla cost $17 million to build and features a launch tower with giant dice, a martini glass, a pink flamingo, mock video clips, a giant hand and two 37-foot-tall performers.
File:fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas Nv.jpg
Created when Fremont Street was permanently closed to vehicular traffic in September 1994. When the lights and sound are off, music plays throughout the mall. Free nightly admission is also provided on three stages throughout the mall.
The parking lot is located on the eastern street
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