Going To Vegas
Past Hotels
Past Hotels

A History of Las Vegas Landmark Hotels

Sun, Apr 07, 2013

You won’t find a younger city with a richer architectural history than Las Vegas anywhere in the world. Sometimes cheesy, sometimes tacky, often beautiful, and always well-lit and full of history, here are the top Las Vegas Landmark Hotel Casinos:

Pair-o-Dice (1931): Not that well-known but it was the first hotel casino built in Las Vegas, way back in 1931, only shortly after Nevada legalized gambling.

El Rancho Vegas (1941): Also little known, but the first hotel casino on the current day Strip, opened in 1941.

El Cortez (1941):

Marking the furthest east point of the Downtown area, El Cortez has been a staple of Vegas for decades and was once owned by Bugsy.

The Flamingo (1946):

Ah yes. This is the one featured in so many movies and that you’ve heard so much about. Opened in 1950 by the infamous Bugsy Siegal, its opening marked the beginning of “mob rule” where gambling and Vegas are concerned.

The Sahara (1951):

Built in 1951, today it is considered the very north end of the Strip, back then it wasn’t “on the Strip” but the furthest point south in the Downtown area. Many celebrities have graced the stage and entertained guests from Don Rickles to Liza Minelli, Mae West, Sonny and Cher. It was one of the Hotels “robbed” by the Rat Pack in the original Oceans 11.

Sands (1951):

For a time called La Rue’s, Sands was built in 1951 and was one of the first and most popular casinos of Las Vegas’ “golden age.” Reportedly upon naming the hotel, the owner and infamous Houston Texas gambler Freedman (or Friedman) said, “There’s so much sand in this damned place that my socks are full of it! So why don’t we call it ‘The Sand’ until it’s finished; then we’ll call it the ‘Holiday Inn’.” It was a favorite of the Rat Pack and featured many innovations like a “tram” that carried gamblers back to their room.

Golden Gate Casino (1955):

Right in the middle of Downtown, right in the middle of all the old-school action. Golden Gate Casino has gone through several names, and has been “Golden Gate” since 1955. Under other monikers it was the home of the first telephone in a Las Vegas Casino and home of the first shrimp cocktail offered in a casino.

Dunes (1955):

Once set where you will find the current day Bellagio, the land was a horse ranch and bought by movie magnate All Gottesman and other investors in order to build a luxurious hotel casino. It only cost $5 million to build! You’d be hard pressed to find a penthouse on the Strip at that price today. The Dunes was another favorite scene for the who’s who of Hollywood, Vegas, and the mob.

The Tropicana (1957):

Back when the Strip was mostly sand Ben Jaffe decided to buy 40 acres of land a mile past the Flamingo and build the world’s finest hotel casino. And for a time the Tropicana was indeed the gem of Vegas.

Las Vegas Hilton (1960’s):

Opened in the late 60’s, at the time it was the world’s biggest hotel. It was not part of the Hilton line of Hotels until the 70’s. The Las Vegas Hilton was home of some of the most storied boxing like the famous Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks, and Mike Tyson and Tony Tucker fights. The Hilton is still one of the most popular off-Strip casinos and home of the world’s largest sports book today.