History of the MGM Grand Hotel
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Region: Henderson, Off-Strip, Southeast
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History of MGM Las Vegas Hotel
The MGM Grand opened as the Strip's first super-resort in 1973. The arrival of the MGM Grand set a new standard of size and luxury in old Las Vegas, unmatched until the 1989 opening of Steve Wynn's Mirage Hotel. The original MGM, then located at the south-east corner of Flamingo & the Strip, was sold to Bally's in 1986. The current, 5,005 room MGM Grand would open at the north-east corner of Tropicana & the Strip in December 1993 becoming the largest hotel in the United States and currently the second largest in the world.
The front entry to the MGM Grand, seen from the Strip in 1977. With 2,100 rooms, the hotel was the world's largest.
MGM Grand's night driveway, in 1977.
MGM from the Strip 1977.
The MGM Grand Hotel, as seen thirty years ago, was a huge resort set on the still sleepy Las Vegas Strip. This hotel later became Ballys. A new room tower and the Paris Hotel now sits on the right. The easy-entry parking lot has since been converted to an elevated, plaza-like walkway with a spiraling lightshow. Part of the Bonanza Hotel is seen on the right side of this photo, in 1977.
1977 view of the MGM fountain, before its 1980 removal.
The MGM Neighborhood 1977
Northward view, from an MGM room, of the 1977 Strip showing the Flamingo-to Sands-to-Riviera.
Looking northwest (in 1977) towards Caesars Palace from the original MGM (now Bally's). The Flamingo is in the process of building its first tower. The Times Square low-rise motel is in the demolition process to make way for the coming Barbary Coast.
The original Flamingo Hotel and surroundings 1977.
Sands Tower 1977, seen looking northward from an MGM room. Now the Venetian location. The Mirage and Treasure Island Hotels would later be built on the vacant lots seen just beyond the tower.
Diagonally across from the MGM was Caesars Palace, built on the land owned by Kirk Kerkorian from 1962-67.
Caesars Palace 1977.
Looking north at the Caesars roadsign. The Forum shops would be built on the Shell gas station lot in 2005. The Mirage would be built in the area between the Arco and Texaco gas stations 12 years later after this photo.
The same view, 22 years later, in 1999. The Mirage and Treasure Island can be seen in the backgroud.
Looking south down the Strip. The Bellagio later replaced the Dunes, in 1998. The Paris Hotel & Eiffel Tower would be built between the two neon-signs (seen at the left) of the MGM and Aladdin.
The 1977 view looking north, towards the Flamingo, from the sidewalk in front of the Dunes (now the Bellagio).
The same sidewalk location, 22 years later, in 1999. The Bally's (1984) room wing addition is seen at right. Contruction of the Paris Hotel can also be seen at the right edge of photo.
The Dunes Hotel (now the Bellagio) on the southwest corner of the Strip & Flamingo Road (seen from the Times Square Motel / Barbary Coast area) in 1977.
The Dune's sign was (when built in 1964) the world's largest free-standing sign, taking the title from the 1958 Stardust sign. It 1967, the Frontier's roadsign became the world's tallest.
This 1977 photo, shows spring-break skateboarders, in the soon-to-be-demolished, Times Square Motel Pool. This location is now the front casino area of the new Bill Harrah's Casino, formerly known as the Barbary Coast (1978-2005). This 1977 pool location is actually the current ceiling of Drai's Restaurant, in the basement.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the MGM, Dunes, Flamingo and Caesars - stood the little 70+ room Desert Villa Motel (renamed: Times Square Motel in 1975) . Operating just across the street from the MGM's 2,100 room hotel was a sight of contrasts between the last Strip Motel and new megalith. This motel acts as a good 'four-corners' landmark when viewing the aerial photos further below.
April 1977 image of the Times Square Motel (earlier named the Desert Villa Motel) at the NE corner of Flamingo and the Strip. These April Spring-Break Skaters used its pool just before the motel was demolished. In 1978, this motel was replaced by the Barbary Coast. In March, 2007 this exact spot became (the new) Bill's casino floor. Bill Harrah was the originator of Harrah's Casino and the converted casino is now named after him.
1977 skateboarders in the 'Times Square Motel Pool'. The first tower of the Flamingo is seen being built in the background. This was the first Tower the Flamingo ever had built, since its 1946 opening....while the (1952) Sands added its own tower in 1965 as did the Dunes in 1965. The Sands and Dunes - built towers within 10-12 years of operation. The Flamingo waited 31 years before adding a tower to its property. This tower was soon followed by more towers forming a current cube-like appearance to the Flamingo, though it is actually only three towers.
The MGM provided easy entry front parking. The more leisurely pace and expanse of 1977 are evident when comparing this 1977 photo to the one below.
This 1999 photo, from the northwest corner of Flamingo & the Strip, shows a much busier, highly built up Strip.
This 1999 photo, looking east towards the Flamingo & Strip intersection. The original MGM (now Ballys) is seen at the right side of photo.
Early Strip Aerial Views
1959 view of Strip, looking north-easterly. The Dunes (Bellagio) & Flamingo are in foreground.
The current location of Caesars Palace (built in 1966) is seen at left, across from the Flamingo. The diagonal curve, of the Strip, starts at the location of the Sands (now the Venetian).
The dome-shaped (1958) Convention Center is seen, in the distance, at upper-right. The Sands
and Dunes towers would be built in 1965, with Caesars Palace opening in 1966.
1952 view, looking north, towards the original Flamingo Hotel before its 1953 re-modeling showing the original Flamingo pylon sign. The Sands motel rooms are seen nearing completion just beyond the Flamingo. Sands is the Venetian. Flamingo Road hadn't yet been built, nor had the Desert Villa motel (which would later become the site of the Barbary Coast Casino in 1978). The vacant land, at bottom of photo, would later be the site for the Three Coins motel, the original(1973) MGM Hotel and later the site of (1986) Bally's Hotel.
Circa 1954 view of the Dunes and Flamingo (looking east). The green dot marks the future location of
the Desert Villa Motel (later becoming the Barbary Coast in 1978). Flamingo Road had been built
running from the Strip to a non-existent Koval. The vacant lot across from the Dune's construction site
would become the future location for the Three Coins Motel. In 1967 the Bonanza Casino would occupy
the area (seen between the MGM & Paris captions). The MGM would be built in 1973 and Paris in 1998.
The same current view (by satellite) shows the Bellagio and now occupying the former Dune's location (bottom).
The Flamingo is seen (top left) along with Ballys, Paris and the Aladdin (to the right). Caesars is at bottom left.
1958 view looking north towards the remodeled Flamingo Hotel after its 1953 re-modeling. The newly built, cylinder-shaped, Champagne tower is seen near the edge of the building. A similar cylindrical tower was erected in front of the Flamingo Capri room units. The (1957) Sans Souci motel is seen at upper left (now the north area of the Mirage). The (1958) Flamingo Capri motel rooms can be seen just beyond the Flamingo (now the approximate site of O'Sheas and Imperial Palace casinos). The Desert Villa motel can be seen just below the remodeled Flamingo. To locate the area of the Champagne Tower, nowadays, it was located almost directly across from the current front entrance and fountains of Caesars Palace. The current Drai's Restaurant sits under the lobby of the old Desert Villa Motel.
1958 view (looking north-easterly) shows the new (1955) Dunes Casino/Motel on the left. The Flamingo is seen, diagonally across the road. The vacant land (at upper left) was purchased by Kirk Kerkorian in 1962 and leased to Caesars Palace from 1965-68. The vacant land, across from the Dunes, would later become the site of Kerkorian's (1973) MGM. Flamingo Road can be seen completed, though it then stopped at Las Vegas Blvd. It would, later, continue westward (1963) under the name Dunes Road, until the entire street would be named Flamingo Road, sometime in the 1980s. The fiberglass statue (called the Sultan of the Dunes) can be slightly seen sitting on top of the Dunes entryway.
1965 view, looking west from the Flamingo - towards the construction of Caesars Palace. The parking lot, to the left of Caesars would later be bought, by Steve Wynn from Howard Hughes, and sold at a huge profit - giving Wynn his first large bankroll for casino investment. The Rio, Gold Coast and Palms would later be built beyond Caesars, in barren West Vegas. MGM Neighbor - The Flamingo
1964 view of the Strip and the Flamingo Hotel (looking north). The vacant land on lower left,
(then owned by Kirk Kerkorian) would later become the location for the 1966 Caesars Palace.
The Imperial Palace and Harrahs would later be built north of the Flamingo Capri room wings.
1966 view, looking north - up the Strip. The fountains, of the recently completed, Caesars Palace (1966) are seen at left, directly across from the Flamingo's (1953) Champagne Tower. The Flamingo (built 1946) was remodeled in 1953, 1967 and 1977 - with additional expansions thru 1980-2005. The Sand's Tower (in center) was built in 1965 and is now the location of the Venetian.
In 1967, Kirk Kerkorian sold the land he had been leasing to Caesars Palace, and purchased the Flamingo.
Under his ownership, the Flamingo was remodeled in 1967. The (1953) Champagne Tower was
demolished, the diagonal entryway was made flush with the Strip and a skyroom was added
which provided full views desert sunsets and Caesars' lit fountains.
1967 view of the second Flamingo remodeling. The former, diagonal front entryway was made flush
with the Strip and a covered driveway (porte cochere) was added. An observation 'skyroom' restaurant
was placed above it. The Champagne Tower was torn down and a new pink-plumed, roadsign was added.
1977 wide view , looking north, at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and the Dunes-Flamingo Road.
In 1977, the former 'Desert Villa - Times Square Motel' was slated for demolition, for the new Barbary Coast.
Year 2000 view, looking north, at the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd. and the Flamingo Road.
1977 view of the Flamingo remodeling and installing neon plumes for a blooming entry.<
2000 view of the same Flamingo location, as above.
2000 front view of the Flamingo from Caesars. MGM Neighbor / The Dunes
1955 view of the front entrance to the Dunes Casino (now the Bellagio). The fiberglass Sultan was
removed when the (1964) Dunes Tower was built. The sultan was then placed at the back of the
property, behind the Dunes Golf Course - nearer to the freeway, until it burned, in the late 1980s.
1967 view of Flamingo and the Strip. The Desert Villa Motel is on right corner (NE). Caesars Palace
had opened in 1966. The Flamingo would soon be remodeled and the Champagne Tower torn down. The 1965 Sands Tower
was open. The parking lot between Dunes road and Caesars was the land that Steve Wynn bought from Howard Hughes
(around 1971) and made his first million from selling it to Caesars. Eighteen years later he would build his
Mirage hotel just beyond Caesars.
Early 80s view from the Top O' the Dunes, showing the Flamingo Towers completed.
1965 view of the Strip shows Caesars Palace's foundation being carved into the desert. At bottom left side is
the Dunes, then Caesars lot, then the future lots for the Mirage, Treasure Island and the Fashion Show Mall. Beyond that
is Spring Mountain Road, the Last and New Frontier, the Silver Slipper, the Royal Nevada, the Stardust, then the lot for
the (1968) Circus Circus. On the bottom right is the Galaxy Motel, the Three Coins Motel, the Desert Villa Motel, the Flamingo, the Flamingo
Capri addition, then the future lots for Imperial Palace and Harrahs. The Sands and its room wings are seen next
(where the Venetian is now). Beyond the Sands is the lot where the Venetian addition is now nearing completion.
Then is the Colony Motel (where the Wynn Las Vegas is now). The curving Sands Road (at Spring Mountain) was not built
at this point. The large square is The Desert Inn Gold Course. Then (on the Strip) is the Desert Inn. Further down is the
Riviera and then the Thunderbird. At far right is the un-opened Landmark. Across from that is the domed Convention Center. Kerkorian's International Hotel
would be built (in 1969) on the land next to the Convention Center and the Las Vegas Racetrack (at top right).
1968 view of the Dunes and the Dune's Golf Course, showing expansion of room wings.
1966 view of the Dunes shows the new freeway, the golf course, the circular Dome-of-the-Sea restaurant and the additional room wings behind the original set. The Tower opened in 1965. Across the street (at bottom) are the Three Coins Motel and (on bottom left) the Galaxy Motel. At bottom-right, is the parking lot that Steve Wynn purchased from Howard Hughes and later sold to Caesars Palace. In 1992, Steve Wynn bought the Dunes and imploded the building in October 1993 to make way for his Bellagio Hotel, which he opened in 1998.
2005 satellite view of the same area as seen in aerial above. The golf course had been replaced
by Bellagio convention halls and the freeway had expanded into multi-lanes four pedestrian bridges
can be seen, over the Strip, at the Flamingo-Las Vegas Boulevard intersection.
Before & after photos show the Dunes in 1966 and the same property as the Bellagio 2005.
Across from the Dunes (bottom) were the Three Coins Motel and the Galaxy Motel. Now, across
from the Bellagio is the Eiffel Tower and the Arch of Triumph. The former Caesars parking lot
has been used to build Caesars' Agustus Tower. The front of the Bellagio hotel was built about
where the Dunes middle room wings were located. The Dunes' Tower was approximately
where the fountain mechanisms are now.
Day & night 1999 view of the Bellagio from the westside.
1965 view of the Strip, looking north towards Flamingo Road. The Eiffel Tower is now where the Galaxy Motel once was (on right). The Dunes (left) was located where the Bellagio lake is now. Caesars had just started construction. The Three Coins Motel (right, beyond Galaxy sign) became the location for the first MGM Grand (now Ballys). The Dome-of-the-Sea Restaurant, is at left, between Denny's and the Dunes entryway. 2005 satellite view, of the Strip from the same approximate location. The Bellagio lake is now in the area where the Dunes Tower stood. On the right are the Aladdin, Paris and Ballys (the former MGM). The Eiffel Tower is across from the Bellagio's front entrance.
1965 night view of the new Dunes Tower, seen from the driveway of the Galaxy Motel.
The Strip (looking north toward the Flamingo intersection) showing the Dunes and the MGM roadsigns circa 1975.
The Bellagio is now located where the Dunes sign once stood and Ballys owns the original MGM Grand.
This photo was taken from the center of the Strip, near where the Paris Eiffel Tower is now.
Before & after views, from the exact same location, showing the Dunes in 1977. The Bellagio is seen, 21 years later, in 1998. MGM Neighbor / The Aladdin.
The Tally-Ho was built south of the early Dunes (in 1964)on the east opposite side of the street.
The hotel was titled 'The King's Crown / Tally-Ho Inn' and only operated from 1964-1966.
After their application for a gaming license was denied the owner sold the property to
Milton Prell, who was the builder of the 1948 Club Bingo and later the 1952 Sahara.
An expanded front casino was built (1966) and the rear rooms remained for a time. The
famous Aladdin's Lamp was used as the hotel's (15 story) roadsign and neon was added to the
property. Their Bagdad Theater was once of the foremost showrooms of the time. In 1972, a
19 story tower was added. The Aladdin provided guests with a 9 hole golf course. The new MGM
can be seen, towering high, beyond the Aladdin in this 1974 photo.
1967 view of the Aladdin at night. Its Arabian Night's theme was quite popular.
The front entrance (Strip-side) used the Aladdin letters as a bold front entryway.
This 19 story tower was added to the Aladdin in 1972 and stood tall until its 1998 implosion. Kirk Kerkorian's Hotel Ventures 1965-1973
Kirk Kerkorian, the most influential Las Vegan and the longest operating casino owner virtually changed the direction of Las Vegas numerous times through his arrival here after 1945. The Caesars Palace Property - 1965 - Owned by Kirk Kerkorian.
The International Hotel - 1969 - Built by Kirk Kerkorian
Kerkorian's 1969 International opened next to the Convention Center and Howard
Hughes' Landmark casino-hotel. Paradise Road was thought to soon become the second
Las Vegas Strip.
Kerkorian's International Hotel changed the direction for the future of Las Vegas hotel building.
Opened on Paradise Road, off the Strip, this was the first of the thre-wing hotel design that
would later be used for the MGM, Mirage, Monte Carlo, TI, Bellagio, and Venetian.
The room wings of the International were later extended far beyond the former length. This
resort-hotel set a pattern for Las Vegas resort design of the future...and Kerkorain brought that
same style design to the Strip's, in 1973, with the building of his MGM Grand. The Bonanza Hotel - 1969
1968 view of the Strip looking north towards Flamingo Road. The area on the right, from the Aladdin to the Flamingo would undergo huge changes after 1973 and 1997. The Bonanza roadsign would later become the approximate location for the MGM roadsign in 1973, with the MGM Hotel opening where most of the Bonanza Casino stood. In 1997, plans were made to build the Paris Hotel just beyond (north of) the Aladdin Hotel - between the Aladdin and Bonanza roadsigns.
In 1967, the Galaxy Motel was purchased to be remade into the Bonanza Casino-Hotel. The Bonanza added casino buildings in the vacant lot just north of the Galaxy sign. When Kerkorian later purchased the land for the MGM, the extended property line was relenquished back and the Bonanza's property line was reset to the boundary of the former Galaxy Motel. The Bonanza's casino, showroom and restaurant were torn down in 1972 after the property was sold to the MGM. The Bonanza's opening was hosted by actor Lorne Green (of the Bonanza TV show) in July 1967. After 5 years it was sold and the casino area was removed, making the Bonanza Casino one of the shortest-lived casinos ever on the Strip.
The Bonanza Casino-Hotel was opened in 1967 in the building formerly occupied by the (1964) Galaxy Motel.
The Bonanza roadsign stood approximately 50 yards north of where the later MGM roadsign would stand.
The Bonanza roadsign was set at the far north end of the property, giving motorists an easy entryway.
After Kirk Kerkorian sold his International and Flamingo Hotels (to the Hilton group in 1970) he then
purchased the property at the corner of Flamingo Road and the Strip. The property line extended into
the Bonanza property and the Bonanza roadsign - and 80% of its front casino were removed to
make way for the new, 1973 MGM Grand.
1968 aerial view of the Bonanza. After the sale of the Bonanza land to the MGM (in 1971)
the Bonanza buildings left of the yellow arrow were removed. The curving line of motel rooms
(the original 1964 Galaxy Motel) remained in operation.
In 1972, after Kerkorian purchased the land for his MGM Hotel, about 4/5ths of the Bonanza's front was
removed, leaving just the small (far right) building as the Bonanza's new front. The MGM was built
directly behind the Bonanza roadsign.
1999 view of the Paris Hotel and Eiffel Tower were built in 1998 on the land formerly owned
by the (Galaxy &) Bonanza Hotel & the Churchill Downs Shopping Center.
1993 photo of the Churchill Downs Shopping Center. This shopping center was located between the Aladdin and the
MGM/Ballys property. It was demolished a few years later to make room for the building of the Paris Hotel.
The very popular Little Caesar's Sports Book (1970-1994) was located in this shopping center and
was where Bob Stupak won his million dollar Super-Bowl bet.
1999 view, from the Bellagio, shows the Paris Hotel-Casino and the Arch of Triumph .
now occupying the area where the Bonanza and Churchill Downs Shopping Center once stood.
1999 view of the completion of the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower as seen exactly across
the street from the Bellagio (formerly the Dunes). The Paris Hotel was built on the former site of the
Bonanza Casino (and Galaxy Motel) - as well as on part of the Churchill Downs Shopping Center. The First MGM Grand - 1973
1977 view of the MGM Grand as seen from the Dunes.
The MGM, from artist's rendering to actuality.
The parking area (on the right) was later used (1985) to build the MGM's south tower.
Photo shows the MGM Grand, with the Bonanza Casino (formerly the Galaxy Motel).
The Bonanza is currently the approximate site for the Paris Mon Ami Gabi sidewalk restaurant
and a leg of the Eiffel Tower.
In the 1970s the Las Vegas Strip had the slow paced feel of a desert-beach town, with lots of pools,
wide-open blue skies and people casually walking thru hotels in swimwear. The post-millenium Strip now has
a more condensed urban feel, with increased pedestrian traffic filling sidewalks & high-rises filling the sky.
The 5 lane covered driveway of the MGM Grand.
The vast front casino of the MGM in the mid-1970s.
The Jubilee showgirls.
MGM's front fountain and statuary were removed after 1980.
1976 view of the side of the MGM from the Aladdin golf course.
1975 view looking north up the Strip from near Harmon Avenue towards the MGM & the Dunes. The Churchill Downs Shopping Center is seen at right (later becoming part of Paris and Aladdin's properties).<
1978 view, looking north up the Strip, at the 'four corners' intersection of Las Vegas Blvd & Flamingo Road. The new (1964) Dunes Tower and the Dome of the Sea are seen at bottom left. Caesars (1966) is seen, at left, beyond the Dunes. Farther on is the future site of the (1989) Mirage & (1993) Treasure Island. At bottom right is the sign for the old Churchill Downs Race & Sports Book (now the edge of the Aladdin). Just above that sign is the curving Galaxy Motel, which is now the site of the (1998) Paris Hotel - whose Eiffel Tower now sits almost directly across from the circular Dome of the Sea Restaurant. Above that is the (1973) original MGM Hotel. Across from Flamingo Road, is the construction framing of the Barbary Coast Casino and the Flamingo's first Tower. The first Imperial Palace Tower is seen beyond the Flamingo, followed by the Holiday Inn Showboat (now Harrah's) & the Sands Tower. The MGM would later become Bally's, with the parking lot being replaced with a moving sidewalk and circular lights. The Bellagio replaced the Dunes in 1998. The MGM-Mirage Hotels
1977. The second MGM was built on the corner formerly occupied (mainly) by the Marina Hotel
and the Tropicana Country Club. Opened in 1975, the Marina was purchased by Kirk Kerkorian
in 1989 and became the MGM Marina.
1978 view of the Marina Hotel, located on the Strip 100 yards north of Tropicana Avenue.<
1978 view of the Marina Hotel-Casino. The building would be incorporated in the design of the
new MGM Grand Hotel, becoming the western wing (near the current M&M Factory).
2005 satellite view of the current MGM showing the former Marina building
(marked in red) incorporated as the MGM's west wing.
1977 view of the Tropicana Golf Course & Country Club. The second MGM Grand would be built on the NE side,
encompassing the 100 acre property with buildings from the Strip to Koval Lane. The current front entry-way
is approximately situated where the first water-trap is seen (at Tropicana and Duke Ellington Way). The hotel in the
(right) foreground is the Tropicana Hotel (which opened in 1957). In the 1970s, the Tropicana, Marina and Hacienda
were the few casinos located so far south on the Strip. In the 1990s, this area became populated by the 4,000 room
Excalibur (1990) the Luxor (October 1993), the MGM Grand (December 1993), Monte Carlo (1996), New York,
New York (1997) and the Mandalay Bay Hotel (1999).
2005 satellite view of the corner of Tropicana Avenue and the Strip, showing
the Tropicana Hotel and the MGM Grand property. The Second MGM Grand - 1993
The original MGM Grand Hotel was sold to Ballys in 1986. By 1993, Kirk Kerkorian opened his
second MGM grand Hotel on the former location of the Tropicana Golf Course and the Marina Hotel.
The lowest wing of the MGM (on left) is the former Marina Hotel. Modern Las Vegas / 1997-2007
Afternoon view2001 looking SE at the south section of the Strip.
Sunrise in the Valley of Gold.
Monte Carlo, NYNY, Excalibur, Luxor & Mandalay Bay, from the Rio.
New York - Luxor
2003 view, from the Orleans, looking east at Monte Carlo, MGM, New York and the Tropicana.
Chryslar - Sphinx
2002 Strip skyline from the Barbary Coast.
Pillars of the Community in Infra-Red.
Mirage - Treasure Island by day.
Mirage - Treasure Island by night.
Treasure Island & Pirate Lagoon.
Mirage & Volcano.
Bellagio & Fountains.
Bellagio's front entrance sign.
Bellagio's front roadsign.
Bellagio's lakeside stores.
New York to Monte Carlo
Mid-Town Coney Island in Las Vegas.
1997 view of the north side of Circus Circus seen from the location of the (1941) El Rancho. Early Vegas Las Vegaspage
Caesars from the Westside
Caesars from the driveway. Early Vegas Las Vegas page
Kirk Kerkorian's Fresno Influences