Fremont Experience – Revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada.

Twenty-five years ago, legal procedures were in place for the creation of a street mall and entertainment venue in downtown Las Vegas called the “Fremont Experience.” Closure of part of Fremont Street to vehicular traffic and construction on the venue started in 1994. The attraction helped to revitalize downtown Las Vegas because the Las Vegas Boulevard “Strip” of casinos and resort properties was sucking the tourist business away from downtown.

The pedestrian mall is now a major downtown attraction with two levels of ziplines traversing the giant electronic canopy. What brought us to the downtown area came about during a telephone visit with our friend, Fred Mast, originally suggesting a photo trip to the four-corners area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet. We were to discover that the area was basically shut down for the season. We would have to find an alternative. I suggested Las Vegas. Though I went there annually to attend Information Technology conferences for my work in the late 90s and early 2000s, since my retirement, we’d not been there and Fred hadn’t been there in over a couple decades. None of us are gamblers, that wasn’t the attraction. It was night and street photography that was our lure.

Knowing my niece and her husband make a trek to the gambling mecca often, I contacted her for advice on where to stay. They recommended Main Street Station. The hotel and casino, though older, is well taken care of, and it’s a bargain at $50 or so a night. Even with parking costs and other fees, our bill was under $75 a night, a far cry from what I’ve typically paid for a night on The Strip. The walk to the Fremont Experience and other attractions was around two blocks. All in all, I know the next time we visit “Vegas”, we’ll be staying here or at her sister casino, California, just across the street.

But I digress, this post is about Fremont Street. Lots of people to see as we walked under the canopy in late afternoon. The crowds hadn’t yet arrived, but there were still plenty of people. There were buskers all along the street and celebrity look-alikes everywhere from Pee Wee Herman to Captain Jack Sparrow. Check out the gallery for a collection of images of our walk down Fremont Street below.

A major attraction, added since my last visit, were the ziplines. A shorter, lower level zipline is similar to the upright harness system Lynn and I experienced on our cruise to Alaska a few years ago. The longer and higher zipline consists of a harness where the rider is horizontal like any superhero should be when flying through the air. The attraction, known as Slotzilla, can be seen in the background of the image above. The openings above the word “Slotzilla” are where the lower level riders depart. Above that in the pinkish magenta area is where the horizontal upper level riders depart. I might have taken the trip, but I couldn’t get anyone else in our group to join me. >grin<

We hadn’t gotten very far down the street when Lynn got stopped by a lady who wanted to make us all beautiful (for a price). She offered to give each and every one of us a treatment with her special concoction that would remove all those wrinkles and age lines from around our eyes. Graciously, she did one eye for us. Then the hard sell began. The elixir was only $1,000, but because we are so special, we could get it for a mere $299. Of course, neither Fred nor I were interested in anything more than making jokes about it. She set about seriously trying to sell Lynn on the notion. In order to do that, she wanted to know which one of us was Lynn’s husband. Fred and I confused the poor woman by both claiming the other was the husband. She was finally convinced that Fred was Lynn’s spouse to his denial until I finally fessed up. We left with our finances intact and one beautiful eye each.

There are some very talented people demonstrating their skills in exchange for a few tourist dollars. At one location, two people worked in clay to make faces of their customers or, in this case, a face of a baby depicted in a cell phone photograph. I watched in awe for some time as the craftsman did his work. If I recall correctly, they were asking $35 USD for a small sculpture like the one pictured above. The next time you make it to The City of Lights, eschew the Strip for one evening and head downtown to check out the Fremont Experience. In most browsers, you can click on an image below to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner


2 thoughts on “Fremont Experience – Revitalizing Downtown Las Vegas

  1. After the commencement of WWI hamburger sells took a dive in this country. As we all associated the ground beef sandwich with Germany. One KC area Chef futzed with the shape & cooking style, changed it to a square patty, put holes in the beef & began steaming the beef… It was a hit, he saved burger sales in America and opened the first White Castle. Medical science still can’t figure out why people eat there. There’s even one right in Downtown Vegas.

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