LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — YESCO, the company behind many of Las Vegas’ iconic, glittering signs is celebrating more than a century of being in business and helping shape the image of Las Vegas.
A new exhibition opened Thursday in the Arts District, showcasing YESCO’s colorful history dating back to the early days of Las Vegas. The exhibition was originally planned to open in 2020 for YESCO’s 100th birthday, but COVID had other plans in mind. The company is now 102 years old.
The exhibit, put together with the LVCVA’s News Bureau, the Neon Museum, and Nevada Humanities, examines the history and impact of YESCO on Las Vegas, from early neon signs on Fremont Street in the 1930’s, to the mid-century signs on the Las Vegas Strip, to today.
YESCO was founded back in 1920 as one of the earliest companies in the West licensed to manufacture neon signs. The company’s signs have been described as “monumental advertising” of their day. Behind each sign — like the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” from decades ago or the more recent towering gateway arches in front of the Strat — there’s a colorful story involving the men and women who made it all possible.
Here are some fun historical facts from the exhibit:
- World War II: YESCO survived material shortages by refurbishing and reselling used signs kept in its boneyard. The company offered customers the option to lease signs.
- 1950s: Fierce competition between hotels during a tourism boom led to bigger signs, like ‘Vegas Vic’ and the massive high heeled shoe. YESCO went a step further, making signage a part of architecture such as with The Mint.
- 1970’s: The Circus Circus sign was the first to go over $1 million.
The exhibit will be on display until Mar. 23 by appointment Tuesdays through Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. It will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of the month for First Friday events.