Technology is a relentless mistress, and lighting technology even more so. Signage and lighting tech is driven by energy-efficiency codes and cost, as well as ease of use, installation and maintenance. Nostalgia rarely factors in.
Neon is still used to accent casino signage, and in places you cannot see it (to backlight the channel letters used on most strip-mall signs, for instance). Exposed neon is also required along East Fremont, as well as the downtown stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard. But will it return as a primary exterior lighting medium? Not likely.
Why? Aside from logistical concerns, our Twitter-addled brains have pushed signage toward a kind of short-attention span theater, suggests Danielle Kelly, chief operating officer for the Neon Museum and Boneyard.
“Contemporary culture has a restless eye,” Kelly says. “Maximizing visual information is key to a competitive operation … Neon simply can’t compete with a giant television screen.”
That’s a shame. It’s hard to replicate the living glow of artful tubes beckoning from the darkness, especially when the replacement is little more than a reality show writ large. Thankfully, we have the Neon Museum to help preserve this part of Las Vegas history. And who knows? Perhaps, in the future, when all the “sin” has been stripped from Sin City, someone will build a Vegas-themed resort along the Strip. Nothing short of a full neon-resurrection would work there.
I heard Mesquite is thinking of going smoke-free. Should Las Vegas do this?
The good people of Mesquite (a town once touted as a bucolic bedroom community for an ever-expanding Las Vegas, but that has suffered considerably during the recession) are exploring how a smoke-free policy might resurrect their riverside hamlet. With clean air, blue skies and a river running through it, Mesquite’s small size and proximity to clean-living Utah might mean it can make such a run at reinventing itself.
So, what would be the economic impact of such a policy in Vegas? Look no further than the failed smoke-free experiment that was once the Strip’s Silver City Casino. It’s now a Ross discount clothing store.
My (nonsmoker’s) opinion? As long as tobacco is legal, the government has no business in our business.