History of Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas

Vegas Interactive Map

Fremont Street Las Vegas

Fremont Street Las Vegas

Beginning of Las Vegas

The Founding of Las Vegas

The American explorer, Colonel John C. Fremont, discovered the watered meadows of the Las Vegas valley on May 3, 1844 (Las Vegas meaning 'the meadows' in Spanish). In 1850, Fremont became the first US Senator from California and the new Republican Party nominated him as their first presidential candidate in 1856. Fremont Street, in present day Downtown Las Vegas, was named in his honor in 1905.

During the early Twentieth Century, pioneers made the long journey out to Las Vegas on the Old Spanish Trail and settled there. The first train arrived in Las Vegas from Salt Lake City, in 1905. The same year, the railroad land-auction launched the official beginning of Las Vegas.

Within two years, the three story, Arizona Club became the leading gambling hall in Las Vegas. Throughout Prohibition, the sole relegation of alcohol and prostitution to the small land area of Block 16 in Downtown Las Vegas made it a prime attraction for rail passengers - while on layovers on their journeys from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. Block 16 soon evolved into the red-light district of Vegas. This is where Las Vegas' moniker "Sin City" originated.

Las Vegas' Competition

Before Las Vegas Started Booming

Until 1910 Goldfield, located 180 miles northwest of Las Vegas, was the largest city in Nevada. When Las Vegas began in 1905, mainly just as a train stop - Goldfield was enjoying its heyday-boomtown years of 1902-1912, when it yeilded over $20,000,000 in gold.

While in 1905 Las Vegas was basically filled with tents and shacks, Goldfield had four-story buildings and opulent hotels. The $450,000 Goldfield Hotel was then the most spectacular hotel in Nevada, employing a staff of 80 bartendars - having plush carpeting & upholstery, phones in every room, gilded columns, mahogany walls, crystal chandeliers, plus an elevator.

With the demise of gold in Goldfield, after 1910, many of its former crib-girls moved 180 miles south to offer their services in prostitution parlors of the newly built railroad town of Las Vegas, which had a constant supply of male travelers. The population of Goldfield in 1906 was 30,000. By 1950, its population was only 275.

Las Vegas Began Booming

When Las Vegas Started Booming

The boom-years for Las Vegas wouldn't begin until after the 1931 completion of Boulder Dam and the 1931 legalization of gambling and six week divorces. After 1932, Las Vegas began marketing itself solely as a tourist resort. 1932 was also the year the Apache Hotel opened, which had the first elevator and neon sign in Las Vegas

In the 1930's Las Vegas began celebrating their Wild West theme of frontier living with the famous annual annual Helldorado Week. The week of festivities featured parades and floats filled with costumed Indians, Cowboys and Miners. This tradition brought in plenty of tourists and lasted through the late 1950's.

The construction of the Hoover Dam is really what made Las Vegas the city is has become today. During its' creation, construction workers from all over the country moved to the Las Vegas valley in hopes for a job. After the Hoover Dam was built, it became such a tourist attraction that the city was named 'The Gateway to Hoover Dam' in marketing slogans.

Early Vegas Travel Info
  Hotel Info Nightly Rate*
1.

Region: South Strip, Strip

Mandalay Bay
4

The impressive Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino offers a world of possibilities in one of the most all-inclusive, luxurious resorts in Las Vegas. The giant complex truly offers something for everybody, from the 11-acre pool...

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Rates starting at
$80*



2.

Region: Off-Strip

Palms
4

Palms is one of the best party hotels in Las Vegas. Droves of trend-setters set out to stay at the hotel and experience upscale dining, nightlife and entertainment that is ammassed at Palms. If you want to be part of the...

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Rates starting at
$72*



3.

Region: Strip

ARIA
5

One of the freshest faces on the Strip belongs to the Aria, a curvillinear wonder in the heart of CityCenter. With state-of-the-art guest rooms and an earth friendly philosophy, the Aria Resort and Casino stands alone in...

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Rates starting at
$129 you pay $129*



4.

Region: Strip

MGM Grand
4

Surprises await around every corner for visitors to the massive MGM Grand. Excellent attractions and the hottest pool party in the city, Wet Republic, make for an exciting and unique visit to one of the largest hotels on...

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Rates starting at
$80*



5.

Region: Henderson, Off-Strip, Southeast

Green Valley Ranch
4

Green Valley Ranch Resort is ideal for a spa weekend getaway. After indulging in a Seaweed Detox Wrap at the on-site spa, guests can retreat to their deluxe rooms with beds featuring highend Frette linens.


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Rates starting at
$83*



6.

Region: North Strip, Strip

Circus Circus
3

For family-friendly fun for your Las Vegas vacation, the Circus Circus offers more entertainment options than any other hotel on the Strip. From the world's largest permanent circus to Adventuredom, a huge indoor theme...

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Rates starting at
$59 you pay $36*



7.

Region: South Strip, Strip

NY NY
4

Transport yourself from the Nevada desert to the heart of Manhattan at the New York New York Hotel and Casino. The unmistakable facade features replicas of the Big Apple's brightest stars including the Statue of Liberty...

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Rates starting at
$70*



8.

Region: Strip

Mirage
4

From the moment you experience your first volcano eruption standing in front of the sprawling resort and casino, you'll know this Las Vegas vacation is sure to be unforgettable. The Mirage Resort and Casino offers...

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Rates starting at
$85*



9.

Region: Strip

Bellagio
5

Besides the world famous fountain show happening in front of the hotel, the Bellagio Hotel and Casino offers a world of possibilites inside its doors as well. From the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art to the stunning Cirque...

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Rates starting at
$167*



10.

Region: Strip

Monte Carlo
4

The French-Riviera inspired Monte Carlo Resort and Casino attracts guests looking to escape into a world of class and luxury, with fine dining, a high stakes casino and a strong line-up of Las Vegas headliners. The...

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Rates starting at
$62*



11.

Region: Off-Strip

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
4

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is fast becoming one of the hottest destinations for vacationers looking to party. A meal at their excellent restaurant Nobu is a great starting point for an unforgettable even in their...

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Rates starting at
$74 you pay $63*



12.

Region:

Caesars Palace
4

Caesars Palace Resort and Casino is a leader in Las Vegas luxury and entertainment. You will be hard pressed to find a better line-up of excellent restaurants, headliner performers like Cher and Elton John and beautifully...
Business Center Room Service Restaurants Free Internet Fitness Room Concierge Service Swimming Pool

Rates starting at
$144 you pay $130*



The explorer who discovered the Las Vegas valley, Colonel John C. Fremont.

Nevada. The Silver State.

The journey to Las Vegas on the Old Spanish Trail.

The first train to arrive in Las Vegas, coming from Salt Lake City, in 1905.

The 1905 railroad land-auction launched the official beginning of Las Vegas.

The early Las Vegas gambling parlors and saloons of 1906. The Arizona Club is seen at left (on Block 16).

Within 2 years, the three story, Arizona Club became the leading gambling hall in Las Vegas.

The female employees of the Arizona Club occupied the upper floor.

The male patrons of the Arizona Club gathered on the casino floor for cold drinks, conversation, and games of chance.

The Arizona Club's new, mahogany front entry.

All male patrons - inside the Arizona Club. Circa 1910.

The Faces of 1910 Las Vegas.

Floor slot-machine designs of 1898-1903.

The 1906 Mills' Liberty Bell counter-top, slot-machine.

1908 view of Goldfield - then the largest city in Nevada (from 1902-1910).

1908 view of the prostitution parlors of Goldfield (showing signs with the women's name on them).

With the 1905 opening of the Union Pacific train depot, Las Vegas became labeled as 'The Gateway to Goldfield'. In 1930, it became known as 'The Gateway to Boulder Dam'. When the dam's proposed name was changed Las Vegas was labeled as 'The Gateway to Hoover Dam'. These marketing slogans were used in news ads of the times.

1907 view of Fremont Street showing the the railroad depot on Main Street.

Early-Teens view of Fremont Street, from Second Street. The Apache Hotel (later the site of the S.S. Rex, the Eldorado and Binion's Casino) was built on the vacant lot (on the right). The Post Office (left) later became the 1946 site for the Golden Nugget.

Late 1920's view of Fremont, taken from a position just west of Second Street, showing the intersection of First Street.

1932 view of the, just opened, Apache Hotel. The Apache had the first elevator and neon sign in Las Vegas. Notice the covered entrance on the side, which was removed in the 1962 remodeling. The Apache Hotel would later lease out its ground floor for casino use by the S.S. Rex, Eldorado and the Horseshoe.

1950 (approximately) view of the new Horseshoe Casino. Within a few months the name of Joe W. Brown would be added above the text of the Horseshoe's neon sign. Though owned by Benny Binion - Joe W. Brown acted as operator.

The annual Helldorado Week, which started in the 1930s (thru late 1950s), celebrated the Las Vegas Wild West theme of frontier living - with parades and floats filled with costumed Indians, Cowboys and Miners.

1940s Helldorado Parade on Fremont Street.

Revelers under the Apache sign.

Late 1940s patrons of the Boulder Club.

Circa 1951 view of Fremont & First - showing the two Pioneer signs. The simulated atomic bomb blast depicted the first bomb testing from October 29. Within a year seven such blasts took place in the Las Vegas desert.

1965 aerial view of Fremont and Second street, showing Binion's Horseshoe, the Fremont Hotel, the Golden Nugget, the new Mint highrise and the start of construction on the Four Queens.

Circa 1970 photo showing Fremont Street looking eastward. The Coin Castle was located on the former location of the 1920s Northern Club - one of first three casinos to be issued a gaming license in 1931.

Circa late sixties aerial of downtown Fremont Street.

Downtown Las Vegas 1949 view of Downtown Fremont Street and Second.

Downtown Fremont Street at night - 1951. Within two years from the photo above, the Las Vegas Club added its new neon sign, the Pioneer added its two Vegas Vic signs, and the Eldorado's neon sign was relaced with the new Horseshoe sign.

Downtown Fremont Street, in 1956, just before the construction of the 1957 Mint. The Boulder Club would burn down this same year and Binions extended into that space in 1957. The Lucky Strike added its Bingo sign along with its two gold miners, in 1955.

Six years after the photo from above - this 1962 view of Fremont Street & Second shows the new Downtown transformation. In 1957 the Mint Casino was added and the Golden Nugget installed its neon, Victorian styled,bullnose facade. In late 1962 the Lucky Strike added its tower sign - arguably the most outdated 'new' structure everbuilt in Las Vegas (using stylings more suited to a 1940s pulp, science fiction magazine - than the Space-Age 60s). In early 1962, Binions added its much more modern and futuristic facade, which has remained stylish even up to 2007.In the late 60s, the Golden Nugget bought out the Lucky Strike and extended its casino all the way to First Street.In 1988, Binions, likewise, bought out the Mint and extended its casino and facade down to First Street. In 1991, the Golden Nugget tore off its neon facade and modernized its look with a Beverly Hills' style & palm trees on Fremont.

The 1950 Horseshoe Club - Downtown Fremont Street & Second Street.

The 1950 Horseshoe Club's sign, which replaced the earlier El Dorado sign.

Designs for the 1962 re-modeling of Binion's Horseshoe.

Las Vegas. Showcasing the fine art of feminine beauty - for 102 years.

Downtown Fremont Street 1948.

Downtown Fremont Street 1949.

Inside the Golden Nugget 1950.

The Silver Palace Casino, at First Street and Fremont (across from the Pioneer) later became the Carousel, Sassy Sally's and is currently known as Mermaids.

A night on Fremont 1958.

View of Fremont Street in 1958, after the opening of the 1957 Mint and before its 1959 expansion into the Birdcage Casino.

1970 view of Fremont Street and the new Union Plaza Hotel, built on the site of the former Union Pacific Railroad depot (the spot where the 1905 Las Vegas land auction was held). The 1957 Mint Casino is seen in foreground. In 1959, the Mint bought out the former Birdcage Casino and extended its floor space to First Street (as seen here).

1955 view of one of the two gold miner figures at the Lucky Strike. These miners were later moved to the Gold Strike Casino on Boulder Highway.

The Mint first opened in 1957. In 1959 it bought out the Birdcage and built its half circular entrance. In 1965 the Mint Tower was built, becoming the second downtown high-rise hotel (after the 1956 Fremont). The Mint was bought by Binions Horseshoe in the late 1980s. Binions then extended its facade to the corner of First Street.

The Pioneer Club's neon sign. 'Vegas Vic' was installed in 1951.