On a Tuesday night on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas you see people about in droves. Young men and women bounce from bar to bar, drinking and frolicking until two or three in the morning. Ten years ago this was not the case.
Downtown Las Vegas was not always so friendly. A few decades ago the older casinos in the area were in bad shape, unable to compete with the draw of the sleeker, prettier resort casinos that line the strip further south. Fremont Street was known for rundown businesses, prostitutes and crime. You certainly would not find many people hanging out on East Fremont after midnight that did not have to be there.
Things began to improve in 1995 as 10 casinos lining the five blocks west of Las Vegas Boulevard teamed up to put the light show’s canopy over the street and turned the paved road into a walkway. Ever since the Hotels in the area that used to be known as Glitter Gultch have seen business return far stronger. A few years ago, that renaissance had not yet made its way across the street.
At the turn of the Century Oscar Goodman became mayor of Las Vegas and the revitalization of downtown and East Fremont was one of his dearest pet projects. Under his direction money and business was brought back to the city’s heart. New restaurants, bars and shops have returned to the area, at first slowly and recently in a flood.
Now it seems all of the hippest establishments are opening within a mile or so from the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street.
Zappos has made it the home of their corporate office and has brought their relaxed, to cool attitude with them, including the renovated Gold Spike which has forgone traditional Las Vegas style gaming machines for oversize darts, pool tables and board games to go with their bar.
East Fremont Street is now an entirely different world. The Beauty Bar may have led the way for hipster bars downtown, but the street is now lined with such places. The Park, Radio City Pizza, Vanguard, Commonwealth and La Comida are all places that have popped up in the last year.
They are also the places to be now, if one is not in love with the loud crowded nightclubs that run the Strip that is.