Las Vegas today is one of the entertainment capitals of the world with what seems to be an endless list of things to do no matter what age you are or type of things you’re into. Vegas nowadays is much more family friendly than it used to be with all kinds of roller coasters activities that kids can enjoy while mom and dad are in the Casinos but don’t be mistaken it still earns the name Sin City after dark. Back in the early days, Vegas was considered to be more of an “adult playground” where you could go and lose your inhibitions and go wild. I mean where do you think the saying “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” comes from? We wanted to compile some of the many great pictures of Vegas, mainly from the early days but the occasional semi-current photo was used as a point of reference.
Before it at Happened
Long before multi-billion dollar resorts lined the Strip, Las Vegas was a desolate desert town that appeared to be on the brink of extinction. Here you can see what it looked like in 1906 when settlement first began. It’s hard to believe that if you looked at this same picture 100 years later it would appear as if it was on a different planet.
The Vegas Sign
Possibly the most popular sign in the entire world, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign that you see as you’re driving from California into sin city. It was the beacon of light that could be seen from miles away before the glitz and glamour now associated with Vegas. Over the years its been updated numerous times, including growing significantly in size, but it still stands today welcoming any and everyone.
Birds Eye View of the early days
Even in the early stages, Sin City has always been quite the sight to behold almost everywhere you looked. However the best was without a doubt the view you had as you were flying into the city, or if you were lucky enough to snag a ride in a helicopter that’s now a fairly common attraction. Here you can see the Desert Inn and New Frontier hotels in 1964.
Modern Las Vegas
Just to give you a point of reference we wanted to show modern Las Vegas in order to truly understand how much this city has grown over the years. Here you can see a bird’s eye view looking north up the Strip. The thing is, Vegas shows no signs of stopping that growth, as a matter of fact, if anything the growth rate is has increased exponentially.
The one and only Frank Sinatra
It’s impossible to talk about Las Vegas and not mention the name, Frank Sinatra. Not only was Frank one of the most popular stars to frequent sin city but it could be argued that he played a major part in creating the Wonderful World of Las Vegas as we know it today. Here he’s posing with a group of lovely ladies at the Dunes Hotel, must’ve been a rough life.
The undisputed King of Vegas
Who can argue with Elvis Presley being the undisputed King of Vegas? During the prime of his career, he may as well of been the poster boy for sin city because everything about him screamed the Las Vegas vibe. As a matter of fact, his presence is still strong in the area with more Elvis impersonators that anywhere else in the world.
What many people now refer to as “Old Town” used to be the main area of Vegas, the original downtown strip. The Apache Hotel located on the far right of the picture was built in 1932 and while the Binions Horseshoe now occupies the same space, original brickwork from the Apache still stands. Nowadays there would be a massive video screen above your head which they call the “Freemont Experience”.
Gene Kelly’s Wonderful World Of Girls
Gene Kelly is pictured here with the Folies Bergere showgirls during his eight-week run of his show called Gene Kelly’s Wonderful World Of Girls. The only reason he did the show was if he was the highest paid artist ever to play in Vegas! As if being around all those lovely ladies weren’t payment enough.
Vintage Flamingo Hotel Postcard
Now this is something that you don’t see anymore in Vegas, cars parked out front of a major hotel. Here in this vintage postcard of the famous Flamingo Hotel you can see a whole lineup of cars from the late 1950’s easily accessible if needed. Today however the hotels are so massive that each one requires its own parking structure.
Birds eye view of the Dunes Hotel and Casino, 1955
The tenth resort to open on the now famous Las Vegas Strip was the Dunes Hotel and Casino that used to occupy the same land where the Bellagio now sits. It opened May 23, 1955, and remained one of the go-to hotels in the area for 23 years before closing in 1993.
Living that Pool Life
In the off chance you’ve never been to Las Vegas during the summer months, it gets ridiculously hot outside. After all, it is in the middle of the desert so that shouldn’t be a huge shock. The larger resorts are known to have extravagant pools providing all sorts of activities for guests to participate in. Roulette in the pool used to be a thing before one too many obnoxious splashers had to ruin it for everyone.
If show tunes and plays are your ideas of a good time, the name Noel Coward should most definitely sound familiar. He was responsible for one of the most popular shows on the strip that brought people from all over the country to see him. Coward was also one of the first performers to line up long-term shows at a specific casino.
Tanya the Elephantt
Tanya was the name of a Siamese Elephant that performed at the Dunes Hotel and Casino and could often be found roaming the floor as an added attraction for the patrons there gambling away their life savings. However, they started to receive complaints about the foul odor and the distractions created by Tanya and they eventually had to remove her.
The Cal Neva Lodge & Casino
Some of you may not have heard of the Cal Neva Lodge and Casino, but back before the Vegas Strip was the place to be when it came to placing bets the Cal Neva was the place to be. The legendary Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin purchased the club along with the help of a Chicago mobster and together they turned it into one of the hottest clubs in the country.
Before the Strip
It is absolutely mind-blowing to look at this picture and know that it’s taken in the exact location where the billions of dollars worth of Hotels and real estate we know now as The Strip now sits. While there were a few hotels there at the time, they weren’t even a quarter of the size of say the MGM, Bellagio or any other major resort.
The lovely Gabor sisters
One of the many great things about the early days of Las Vegas was the “star power” that often frequented sin city either for work, or play. The Gabor sisters, Zsa Zsa, Magda, and Eva, were at the height of their careers during the mid-1950’s and are pictured here at a cocktail party celebrating their show at the Last Frontier Hotel in 1955.
The Bluebell Girls
The hotels and casinos made so much money that they started seeking talent from all over the world to attract more tourists. The Bluebell girls were a famous dance group from the Lido nightclub in Paris, but here they can be seen dancing on suspended stages at the Stardust Hotel and Casino in 1958.
One of the many good things about Vegas life for the rich and famous was the airport was relatively close to where all the action is. Stars like Bridgette Bardot and her newlywed husband Gunther Sachs Von Opel could fly in, get married, and be back on their private jet in a matter of minutes. That’s is if they didn’t get sucked into the craps table, but why would you if you had Bridgette and private jet waiting for you.
Even more Private Jets
The King was constantly popping in and ou of Vegas on his many different gigs all over the world. Here he’s pictured about to board his private jet with his lovely new wife Pricilla just after their wedding ceremony had finished at the Aladdin Hotel Resort and Casino in 1967. Elvis loved both of his jets, the Hound Dog II and the LisaMarie.
The lone watering hole
If you can believe it, there was a time when there was only one major swimming pool for residents to go and catch a break from the brutal sun during the summer months. However as money started to flow, pools soon became part of everyday life with every hotel having at least one, and even most residents having their own personal pools.