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The Evolution of Fremont Street and Downtown Las Vegas

Historic Fremont Street Las Vegas in 1911

We might be biased, but we definitely think the growth of Downtown Las Vegas is something to marvel at. From the first hotel in Vegas to the largest sportsbook in the world, our neighborhood continues to stun. Read on to learn more about the history of Downtown Las Vegas and how Fremont Street has developed into the amazing place it is today!


The Origins of Fremont Street 


Before Las Vegas was founded in 1905, Fremont Street was one of the main streets through the area thanks to its proximity to the first train depot in the city. The road was the first one in Las Vegas to be paved in 1925 and was the first street to have a stoplight in 1931. In 1902, Senator William Clark purchased a 1,800-acre ranch to make Las Vegas a stop on the rail line he was building. Three years later, in 1905, the railroad auctioned off 1,200 lots inside this townsite to investors for prices ranging from $100 to $750 with business lots going for $1,750.

More than 1,000 potential investors came from Salt Lake City and Los Angeles via the railroad, and many stayed to start building on the land almost immediately. Thanks to the sale of these properties, Fremont Street would soon become Downtown Las Vegas.


The Early 1900’s on Fremont Street 


In the early 1900s, gambling was legal, and casinos appeared on Fremont Street. Gambling was outlawed in 1910, and for some time in the early 1900s, and selling liquor was also illegal unless the business was a hotel. This led to several small hotels being built along Fremont Street. Hotel Nevada, now the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, was the first hotel built on Fremont Street.

In 1931, gambling became legal again. Shortly after this, the construction of the Hoover Dam was started, which brought more people to downtown Las Vegas. More casinos opened up, including Lucky Strike, Pioneer Club, Monte Carlo, and The Birdcage. The population was only 800 in 1909 but quickly grew with the construction of the Hoover Dam and the creation of more jobs within the downtown area.  

Starting in the 1920s, highways used sections of Fremont to go through the area, bringing in more business and more people. Eventually, the highway allowed people to skip over Fremont completely when traveling through Las Vegas, leading to more people visiting the Las Vegas Strip instead of Downtown Las Vegas. This led to explosive growth for the Strip and a slight downturn for Fremont Street.


Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las VegasSource: Federal Health


Revitalizing Old Downtown Las Vegas


In the early 1990s, the decision was made to help modernize the downtown area of Fremont Street and to help bring in more tourists. City officials spent nearly $70 million creating the Fremont Street Experience, which opened in 1995. The Fremont Street Experience covers the first few blocks of Fremont Street and includes free concerts, shows every evening, casinos, restaurants, bars, the largest video screen in the world, and even a giant zipline that soars over the street. Downtown Las Vegas now attracts many more visitors to the area each year, including those who visited Las Vegas to see the Strip but who want to see more of the local area and the history behind Las Vegas. 


The Fremont East Entertainment District 


After the success of the Fremont Street Experience, city officials in 2002 decided to create the Fremont East Entertainment District. They began with plans in 2004 to redevelop an area east of the Fremont Street Experience, including $5.5 million worth of streetscape improvements. This included a redesign of the streets to make them more pedestrian-friendly, retro neon signs, new landscaping, and more. The Entertainment District has now expanded to cover six blocks of Fremont Street and has added a lot to Fremont Street, helping to modernize the area and encourage more tourism.


Shot of the Top of Circa Resort & Casino Las Vegas


Downtown Las Vegas Today


Today, Downtown Las Vegas continues to thrive. With the revitalization efforts in full effect, the area is truly coming into itself and setting its new identity. On top of the Fremont Street Experience and the Entertainment District, there is also the Downtown Las Vegas Art District that has helped build the downtown area into a truly beautiful and cultural space where local artists come to gather. While we love our neighbors on the Strip, we can’t help but brag about the local authenticity of our neck of the woods.

And when it comes to modern-day advancements, Derek Stevens continues to pour his heart and soul into the building of Downtown Las Vegas. On real estate that was formerly occupied by such storied Vegas establishments as the Las Vegas Club, Mermaids Casino, and the legendary Glitter Gulch now resides the spectacular AAA Four Diamond Circa Las Vegas Resort & Casino. This development, Downtown’s first resort in decades, truly shows off how far DTLV has come and how much further it will be going. Fremont Street has grown from housing the first hotel in Vegas to housing the biggest sportsbook in the world.


Make your own bit of Downtown Las Vegas history and book a room at the D! Not only will you be right in the middle of all the Fremont Street action, but you’ll also be treated to the hospitality that Derek Stevens instills in all of his Downtown Las Vegas properties that has been an integral part of Downtown’s growth. We look forward to seeing you here!