Las Vegas: Fremont Street

Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing populations in the country. At its core are bright lights and free will. It’s the indulgent city, the anything can happen here city. People visit the strip to let go, to imbibe, to play one more hand for the winningest night. And before there was Las Vegas Boulevard, there was Fremont Street.

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Located in downtown, Fremont Street is as old as Las Vegas and was the first place to receive its gambling license.

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The glitter gulch, as the street has been affectionately dubbed, is home to some of Las Vegas’ most famous casino hotels such as the Golden Nugget and was the chosen site for numerous films and TV shows depicting the entertainment capital.

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The Strip took off in the 1940s and today it’s the popular four mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard running from the Stratosphere past Mandalay Bay. By the 1960s, Fremont Street withered as tourists chose to go to the more recognizable strip. Locals also began to flock to suburbs like Summerlin and Henderson leaving downtown to urban decay.

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In 2002, the city of Las Vegas helped to revive the area and created the Fremont East Entertainment District (FEED). FEED might be described as a screened in Times Square for pedestrians with live music and a zip line.

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Just across the street from this glittering, musical stretch is a real neighborhood with good looking bars, cool coffee shops, and even a grocery store — a very different vibe from what’s encountered on the casino rows.

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Some of the more recent growth downtown is also thanks to Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh. He relocated headquarters from Silicon Valley to Nevada in 2004. He helped conceive Container Park, a open-air pedestrian mall of restaurants, bars, galleries and shops in modular containers with a large open area for live music and events, with none other than a large tree house at the center. To enter the park, visitors pass a giant scale praying mantis which shoots flames which Hsieh acquired from a Burning Man festival.  Each modular space is dedicated to entrepreneurs such as those looking to sell their own designs or photography, or open a bar.

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When leaving or arriving to Las Vegas, the allure and surprise that is this wondrous, curious place in the midst of absolute desert is even more clear. The chasm between a stage of familiar world relics and the vast uninhabited desert surrounding it is unmistakable.