The Neon Museum in Las Vegas, home to refurbished classic casino signs, began offering Spanish-only tours this month.
The museum’s executive director, Aaron Berger, told the Las Vegas Sun he welcomes the addition. Tours also are available with English-speaking guides.
Though interpreters have been available in the past, this month marks the first time the 45-minute guided tours are offered exclusively in Spanish.
“It really has been, from my perspective, a barrier and not welcoming all the participants who could be coming through the Neon Museum and have an opportunity to explore, learn and just have a good time in our facility,” Berger said.
Of Nevada’s 3 million residents, 29.2 are Hispanic or Latino, the Las Vegas Sun reported in citing 2020 Census data.
In Southern Nevada’s Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, the percentage is higher. Of Clark County’s 2.3 million residents, 31.6 percent are Hispanic or Latino. The national average is 18.5 percent, according other US Census Bureau website.
Matt Martelo, the museum’s training supervisor, said the goal in providing Spanish-language guided tours is to share the “wealth of information that we have” with as many people as possible.
Historic Glitter Gulch
The nonprofit museum opened in 1996 just north of the downtown Las Vegas casino district. The on-site collection includes many of the iconic hotel-casino signs that once rose above Glitter Gulch downtown, and lined both sides of the Strip south of the city limits.
Among the downtown signs is one from the Golden Nugget’s earlier days. The Golden Nugget’s legacy includes several owners whose names have become associated with the Las Vegas Valley’s casino history.
One owner was the casino’s founder, Guy McAfee, a former Los Angeles vice captain who opened the gambling hall after World War II.
Another owner was Steve Wynn, a casino developer who kicked off the megaresort boom in 1989 with the opening of the Mirage Hotel and Casino on the Strip.
The Golden Nugget now is owned by a privately held Texas company, Landry’s Inc., whose CEO, Tilman Fertitta, also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The Mirage now is owned by MGM Resorts.
Mob Casinos on the Strip
The museum also has several signs from well-known Las Vegas Strip resorts that are no longer in operation. These include the Riviera and Stardust.
The Riviera opened in April 1955 at a “then-high cost” of $10 million, according to the book Las Vegas Babylon by journalist Jeff Burbank. Built on the east side of the Strip, the Riviera was a Mob-connected casino whose overseers included reputed underworld figures such as Gus Greenbaum and Moe Dalitz. Some scenes from The Godfather trilogy were filmed at the Riviera. The resort was closed in 2015.
The Stardust was the Mob-controlled resort at the center of New York journalist Nicholas Pileggi’s book, Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. Pileggi and director Martin Scorsese cowrote the 1995 Las Vegas Mafia movie Casino, based on the book. The Stardust’s name was used in the book. In the movie, the name was changed to the Tangiers for legal reasons.
The $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas was built on the west side of the Strip where the now-demolished Stardust once stood. Resorts World opened in June.
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