Between ziplines, vendors, buskers, bands, light shows and outdoor bars, Fremont Street has become a modern-day celebration of momentary flash, catering directly to pupil-dilating experiences and short attention spans. For longtime locals it’s still a beloved stretch of history embodying the city’s origins and forgotten small-town feel, a narrative that gets drowned out by the carnival.
So when Richard Hooker retired from his job as urban arts coordinator for the City of Las Vegas, he decided to team up with travel expert Babs Daitch to reveal Downtown’s famous past and present through walking tours that consider Las Vegas through a historical narrative, encompassing everything from politics to design to popular culture.
It turns out demand existed for this kind of thing. Daily Las Vegas Pop Culture Tours (lasvegaspopculturetours.com) that explore the city’s spectacle and mystique through its role in pop culture and the American West draw those more geared to cultural tourism (particularly Europeans, Hooker says), who are interested in the historical context and narrative of place. “I think people want a more personal interpretation or experience of Downtown,” he says. “They’re interested in hearing our point of view. And we talk about Las Vegas in a different way.”