Imploded Hotels and Casinos
The Aladdin opened in 1963 as the English-themed Tally Ho. It was renamed King’s Crown in 1964, and then closed when a gaming license was not issued. It was purchased by Milton Prell and after two years and $3 million, became the Aladdin. Another renovation three years later led to a sale of the property and eventually a massive renovation, including the 19 floors of tower and the large showroom. Neil Diamond sang at the re-opening in 1976. Between 1980 and 1982, Wayne Newton held a part ownership. In 1997, the Aladdin closed for a complete makeover. It was imploded in April of 1998 and was rebuilt and reopened in August of 2000. Financial problems continued for the property, so it was sold again in 2003 to Planet Hollywood and Starwood Hotels (who operate the Westin). The idea was apparently to have Planet Hollywood run the casino and resort, and to re-brand the hotel as part of a prestigious national chain, perhaps a Sheraton. The Aladdin was in a great center Strip location, across from Bellagio and next door to Paris. Its theme, obviously, was 1001 Arabian nights. When it was created it offered a 9-hole, par 3 golf course on premises. One claim to fame is that Priscilla and Elvis Presley were married on the property in 1964.
In early 1995 11 acres at Sunset Road and North Boulder Highway were approved by the Henderson Planning Commission for a gaming enterprise, and in April issued a liquor and gaming license to the Alystra. A condition was the construction of hotel rooms in addition to the casino. In November of 1998, the Alystra closed “temporarily” in order to comply with the requirement of adding 199 rooms to make a hotel. It reopened briefly and closed again in May of 2000 for an expansion. The 15,000 square foot casino had been in opera-tion since 1996, but there was still no hotel. The Alystra did not reopen after that. John and Mary Connors, who had purchased the Alystra in this last go-round of regulatory proceed-ings, ran out of money and subsequently went bankrupt. A chip from the Alystra casino is highly prized by collectors, because the casino was small, and it was open for such a short period.
Big Red’s Casino
Big Red’s was a casino at the north end of the Strip. It opened in 1981 and closed in 1982. The property was later developed for “CBS Sports World Casino” which apparently had nothing to do with the CBS network. They were forced to change their name to plain old “Sports World.” They operated from 1997 through 2001. Now the property is a shopping mall.
In 1993 the Holiday Inn opened the Boardwalk. Almost ten years later it was purchased by MGM mirage, who also owned the nearby Monte Carlo. A couple of years later, in 2004, MGM publicized its enormous “CityCenter” project, which is due for completion between 2008 and 2010. The Boardwalk was demolished in May of 2006 for this new construction.
There were really two “Castaways.” The first one was at 3320 Las Vegas Boulevard South, on the Strip, occupying space formerly taken by San Souci. It opened in 1963 under the ownership of Ike Larue, who sold it in 1969 to Howard Hughes. The property closed definitively in 1987. It is where Treasure Island is now. Thirteen years later, on the Boulder Highway (2800 Fremont Street), VSS enterprises pur-chased a casino that had been operating since 1954 called the Showboat. It reopened as Castaways and closed in 2004, filing for bankruptcy protection. Vestin Mortgage became the owner, who sold it through some intermediate owners ultimately to Station Casinos, who scraped the property in January of 2006.
This property was on the Strip on the site currently occupied by the Wynn Las Vegas. It opened in 1950 as a golf resort and was the fifth hotel on the Strip. It closed in August of 2000. In 1966 Howard Hughes came to stay and overstayed his reservation. When he was asked to give up his rooms (the top two floors), Hughes purchased the hotel. This was the first of many Hughes purchases in Las Vegas. In its “Crystal Showroom” many of the most famous Las Vegas entertainers appeared: Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett and on and on. In 1997 the “DI” -- as it was called -- spent $200 million on a renovation, reducing the rooms from 821 to 715 and adding the Palms Tower, a large pool area and vaulted lobby. In 1998, Starwood Resorts purchased the property for $400 million and operated it for a while. It was sold to Steve Wynn in April of 2000, three days after its 50th birthday celebration, for $270 million. The main tower was destroyed in October of 2001, and the last vestige bit the dust in June of 2004.
Dunes Hotel and Casino
The Dunes was an historic casino and hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. It opened in May of 1955 as the Strip’s tenth hotel entrant. Being at the far south end of the strip as it then was, the Dunes struggled financially. To avoid going under, management instated topless shows in 1957. Minsky’s Follies scandalized a lot of people, including the Nevada legislature, but a Las Vegas tradition was born. The Dunes added a tower in 1961 so that it then had 450 rooms, remodelled in 1964 when it changed hands and again in 1971. It added rooms in 1979 to total 1300. Mirage Resorts (Steve Wynn) purchased the Dunes in 1994 for $75 mil-lion and imploded it a year later to make room for Bellagio.
This historic property was the strip’s first hotel and casino, built on the southwest corner of Route 91 and Sahara Road in the late 1930’s. (Route 91 later came to be called “The Strip”.) According to the story, in 1938, Thomas Hull’s car broke down south of Las Ve-gas, and he looked at the space and imagined a large swimming pool to relieve the heat from the desert. His idea became El Rancho Vegas in 1941, the pioneer in destination re-sorts with gaming, lodging, dining and other amenities all under one roof. In the 1950’s Beldon Katleman, then the owner, started organizing entertainment as a means of attracting guests, and started the musical “revue.” El Rancho was the site of the wedding of Eydie Gormé and Steve Lawrence as well as the Paul Newman-Joanne Woodward nuptial.
In 1960, the casino burnt to the ground in a disastrous fire. The property operated for a while as a regular hotel, and ultimately was purchased by Howard Hughes. William Bennett, known for his development of Circus Circus and Mandalay Bay, purchased the prop-erty from Hughes. Except for a portion of the property occupied by The Hilton Grand Vacation Club, the site is vacant.
Glass Pool Inn
The Mirage Motel operated from its opening in 1952 under that name until 1988. It is not clear why The Mirage was able to make this 46-room motel change its name, but it did, apparently. It was the southern-most motel on the Strip and had a large, above-ground pool that had windows in the side. It closed in 2003 and was demolished a year later.
Hacienda Hotel and Casino
This hotel was historic, opening at the south end of the strip, virtually all by itself, in June of 1956. Warren (“Doc”) Bayley ran the property as owner. The new idea was that a fam-ily, from say, California, might go to Vegas and stay in one place for a resort vacation. The Hacienda had go-karts, miniature golf, and an inexpensive buffet. It also introduced the promotional rate for rooms occupied by the gaming crowd. This property also bought a DC-3 and a DC-4, the later with a piano aboard, briefly operated Hacienda Airlines. In 1959, the Hacienda pioneered the convention business, creating a large, special facility for such events. When Doc Bayley died in the early 1960’s, his wife Judy became the first woman to operate a gaming property on the Strip. The hotel expanded in 1980 and again in 1991, to 1,140 rooms, and added a boxing arena. Circus Circus Enterprises acquired the property in 1995, closing it on December 1, 1996. It was imploded on the last day of 1996 with much television coverage and fanfare, ultimately to make room for Mandalay Bay.
Holy Cow! Casino Cafe and Brewery was Las Vegas' first micro-brewery, at the corner of Sahara and the Strip, known by its 14-foot, sunglasses-wearing, Holstein cow on the roof. It closed in March of 2002. Holy Cow! was founded in 1992 by Tom Wiesner (formerly a county commissioner), later to become part of Big Dog's Hospitality Group, an operator of several other local properties. A sentimental favorite amongst locals, Holy Cow! was a victim of the September 11, 2001 drop in tourist traffic and the opening of newer and bigger breweries in the area.
This short-lived casino opened in 1971 at the north end of the Strip. It closed just six years later, in 1977. The property is now part of the Sahara complex.
The Klondike Inn opened on the south end of the Strip in 1982 with 150 rooms and suites, a 24 hour restaurant, and a lounge. The small casino had 400 slot machines. The hotel boasted an Olympic-size pool. It closed in 2006 and was demolished shortly thereafter.
Landmark Hotel and Casino
The Landmark Hotel and Casino was started in 1961 on a 22-acre site at the corner of Para-dise Road and Convention Center Drive. Previously, a gas station stood there. Unhappily, the structure sat incomplete for several years due to lack of funds. Howard Hughes bought the property for $8.5 million in 1968 and finished it. It finally opened on July 1, 1969 with 525 rooms. At 346 feet high, the 31-floor tower was the tallest in Nevada. At $20 million, it was one of the most expensive projects as well. The Landmark was distinctive because of its space-age design, with a narrow tower supporting a flying-saucer-like observation area atop. When the Mirage opened in 1988, it signaled a new era for Las Vegas hotels – the time of the gigantic properties. This painted a bleak picture for properties like the Landmark. It closed in August of 1991, purchased by the Convention and Visitors Authority for $16.7 million, and eventually imploded to make room for parking at the Convention Center. At the time it was imploded, on November 7, 1995, it was the second tallest implosion in history (the first was in Rio de Janeiro in 1978). The implosion was filmed to become part of a Hollywood movie.
Lotus Inn Hotel & Casino
The Lotus Inn Hotel & Casino began its operations on the north end of the Strip, really in the City of Las Vegas, in 1973. It was not a financial success, and closed five years later. It became a Roadway Inn.
Lucky Slots Casinov
This small casino opened on the Strip in 1971 and closed its doors in 1981, giving way to a new shopping center.
Marina Hotel and Casino
The Marina Hotel and Casino opened in 1975 with a maritime theme, including the Port of Call Restaurant. It was purchased in 1989 by Kirk Kerkorian, who called it the MGM Ma-rina for a while. It closed in November of 1990 for construction. The structure was not de-molished, but incorporated into the West Tower of the MGM Grand (now Bally's Las Ve-gas), reopening as such on December 18, 1993.
Money Tree Casinov
This small casino opened on the Strip in 1972 and closed five years later, in 1979.
New Frontier Hotel
The New Frontier was located on the Las Vegas Strip since October 30, 1942. It was the Las Vegas Strip's second resort hotel. The Frontier was demolished on November 13, 2007. It started as a nightclub called Pair-O-Dice in 1930, then became The Ambassador Night Club in 1936 and then 91 Club in 1939. On 1942, it was rebuilt and renamed the "Hotel Last Frontier". In 1967, the the New Frontier was purchased for about $14 million by billionaire Howard Hughes, who called it "The Frontier". Developer Phil Ruffin bought the resort in 1998 and changed the name back to The New Frontier.
Nob Hill Casino
The Nob Hill Casino opened in 1978 in the space formerly occupied by Joey's New Yorker Night Club, which itself had opened in 1964. The Nob Hill promoted itself as having really low betting limits (like quarter craps and dime roulette). It closed in 1990 and then re-opened as the Casino Royale in 1992.
Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino
The Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino began operations in 1972 as the Royal Inn Casino. It be-came the Paddlewheel Hotel and Casino in 1986, which was then acquired by Debbie Rey-nolds and reopened as Debbie Reynolds’s Hollywood Hotel in 1993. In 1998 the property then changed hands again, becoming the Convention Center Drive Hotel for two years, and then reopening as the Greek Isles Hotel Casino in 2001, which offers 228 rooms and suites and a casino.
The Sands is an historic hotel and casino. It started operations on December 15, 1952, and by one count was the seventh major property on the new "Strip." In 1967 Howard Hughes purchased the resort property for $14.6 million, and then expanded the hotel with a tower and more rooms. Inns of Americas purchased the property in 1981 for $85 million, but then defaulted on their financing. The property was then resold to Kirk Kerkorian for $167 in 1988 (including also the Desert Inn), who then sold out to Sheldon Adelson. After another renovation, the hotel closed on June 30, 1996 and was imploded in December of that year to make room for the Venetian. For 44 years it was a regular haunt of famous entertainers like Milton Berle, Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, Danny Thomas and the Rat Pack. It hosted many U.S. presidents as well including Truman and Kennedy.
Silver City Casino
The Silver City Casino opened on the Strip across from the Stardust in 1973. The casino was then known as The Riata, which changed its name in 1974 to Silver City, and contin-ued in operation as such until closing on Halloween of 1999. In 1981 it was acquired by Circus Circus Enterprises. In October of 1999, Luke Brugnara bought the property, plan-ning to expand into a full hotel-retail-casino operation, but the gaming license was not forthcoming, and so it closed definitively. Now the Silver City Shopping Center occupies the space.
The Silver Slipper started operations in September of 1950 as simply a casino, under the name “Golden Slipper Saloon and Gambling Hall.” When the Last Frontier was partially scraped to make room for the New Frontier, this casino separated itself and operated as the Silver Slipper. Howard Hughes’ Summa Corporation owned it for a while, and then demol-ished the structure on November 29, 1988 for its new owner, Margaret Elardi, the operator of the New Frontier next door. She turned the property into a parking lot. The Desert Inn Road Arterial now crosses the land.
This hotel started out life as the Thunderbird on September 2, 1948, across from the original El Rancho at the corner of route 91 (later known as the Las Vegas Strip) and Sahara Road. The theme was Navajo (who honored the thunderbird as a bringer of happiness). It boasted the largest pool in Nevada and had the first Strip porte cochère. A neighboring ho-tel called the Algiers was built to handle guest overflow. A showroom came along in 1954. Del Webb bought the property in 1964 and renovated and expanded the property to 500 rooms.
In 1972 the owners of Caesars Palace bought the Thunderbird, and the property entered into a period of big name entertainment with Broadway shows (South Pacific, Flower Drum Song), ice skating spectacles, and headliners like Henny Youngman, Mel Tormé and Rosemary Clooney (among many, many others). In 1977, the Thunderbird changed hands again, acquired by the owners of the Dunes. They changed the name to Silverbird. Another owner and another renovation came in 1981. It was then renamed El Rancho in 1982. The place closed down in 1992 and stood vacant and partially demolished for several years until it was imploded on October 3, 2000. The neighboring Algiers still stands.
Stardust Resort & Casino
The Stardust first opened its doors in 1958 at a cost of $10 million. It offered 1065 rooms of extreme luxury. The nearby Royal Nevada was incorporated into it, adding 230 more rooms. A 32-floor tower addition came in 1976, and several other facelifts took place along the way. Boyd Gaming purchased the Stardust in 1985. The Stardust is remembered as a hangout of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop (the Rat Pack), as well as the long-time base of operations for Siegfried and Roy. The Star-dust was the backdrop for the book and film “Casino.” One of the Stardust’s innovations was the design and operation of a sports book, which has become the Las Vegas standard. The Stardust closed on November 1, 2006 and was imploded on March 13, 2007 to make room for the 5,300-room mega-project called Echelon Place.
Tally Ho Hotel
This English-themed hotel and casino opened in 1963 and was renamed the King's Crown in 1965. It closed in 1966. The property became the Aladdin and reopened in the same year. It was imploded and re-built in 2000 to become the new Aladdin. Then the Aladdin was sold in 2004, remodeled, rebranded and reopened in 2007 as a Planet Hollywood property.
The Vacation Village Resort and Casino opened in 1990 with 315 rooms. It operated, evi-dently in a precarious financial condition, for about twelve years. Then, in 2002 Vacation Village was sold out of a bankruptcy proceeding for $18 million and closed down by the new owners, who then sold the property to Centra Properties and Turnberry Associates. The new buyers wanted the land as the future site of the Town Square development project. The building was demolished in 2006.
Vegas World opened on July 13, 1979. Bob Stupak was the founder of this three-acre gambling resort with 102 rooms, where the Stratosphere now is located. Since starting out, Ve-gas World grew to 11 acres and an 18,000 square foot casino with 40 gaming tables and 1,350 slot machines. The TV serial, Crime Story, was filmed at Vegas World in 1987. On February 1, 1995, Vegas World closed for good. The property became land for the Stratosphere and the Stratosphere Tower. It is said that some parts of the old Vegas World still remain within the Stratosphere.
Westward Ho Hotel and Casino
Westward Ho was the last motel-style property on the Strip. It opened in 1963 with a casino and a few rooms, expanding eventually to 744 rooms, three pools, and a 56,000 square foot casino. At one time the casino organized its own private radio station. November 17, 2005 was its last day of operation, following a sale of the property to a Denver developer intent on making condominiums in the space. (An expansion called simply “The Ho” was opened a few months earlier, and then closed at the same time. It was a casino, convenience store and gas station at the rear of the property for travelers along I-15.) No condominiums resulted, however, as a few months later Harrah's Entertainment purchased the property and swapped it with Boyd Gaming for land farther south on the Strip, where the Barbary Coast casino now stands. On the Westward Ho land Boyd has planned its Echelon project. The Westward Ho building itself came down in November of 2006.
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