History of the Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip History

Las Vegas Strip History

Vegas Interactive Map

History of Vegas

History of Vegas

Las Vegas 1940-1960

Before the development explosion on the Las Vegas Strip in more recent decades, there was the El Rancho resort - the Strip’s first casino. The El Rancho Las Vegas opened it’s doors in 1941 and closed them just 19 years later after a devastating fire felled the historic resort. As the first casino-hotel on the LV Strip, the El Rancho acted as a template that all future Las Vegas casinos would try to surpass. This was the first Strip casino to offer hotel rooms, air-conditioning, auto service, gaming, a buffet, a 24 hour coffee shop, pool and showroom entertainment.

The Forties and Fifties also delivered many other firsts in Las Vegas History:

  • The El Rancho Windmill was the first neon casino sign on the Strip.
  • Water gambling was introduced at the Sands Casino Hotel pool.
  •  The first table-mounted slot-machine was installed on the Strip in 1954.
  • The first stoplight on the Las Vegas Strip was placed in front of the Stardust Casino, where the Strip intersects with Convention Center Road.

Las Vegas 1960-1980

The Sixties and Seventies saw the beginning of the real estate frenzy on the Strip, as future Vegas casino magnants like Howard Hughes, Kirk Kerkorian and a young Steven Wynn, raced to create The Next Big Resort. As the decade of the Sixties culminated with the moon landing, two new casinos were also in a race to open by the time man reached the moon. The Landmark, which was inspired by Seattle’s Space Needle, opened its doors first on July 1. The International, Las Vegas’ first 3-winged hotel, opened the next day - July 2, 1969. Other Las Vegas milestones in the Sixties and Seventies:

  • In 1965, the 1,000 room Stardust was the largest hotel in the world until the opening of Kirk Kerkorian's 1,500 room International Hotel in July 1969.
  • The 2,100 room MGM Grand Hotel Las Vegas opened as the Strip's first super-resort in 1973. The MGM Grand set a new standard of size for early Las Vegas, unmatched for 16 years - until the 1989 opening of Steve Wynn's Mirage Hotel.
  • The parking lot between Flamingo Road and the Las Vegas Caesars Palace Hotel was purchased by a young Steve Wynn from Howard Hughes - and would give him his first good fortune in its sale to Caesars.

Las Vegas 1980 - Current

Today, the Las Vegas Strip is in a constant state of reinvention. Classic destinations like Caesars Palace Las Vegas compete against new mega-resorts like the Venetian Hotel and the Wynn Hotel and Casino for an international crowd of Las Vegas visitors looking to experience the glitz and glamour of Sin City. Historic casino resorts like the Frontier and the Stardust are demolished and quickly replaced by a new generation of Las Vegas Mega-Resorts.

  • The Landmark operated from 1969-1990. The Convention Center was demolished in 1990. The Landmark was imploded in 1995. The Stratosphere Tower would open in 1996, becoming the new towering landmark for Las Vegas - influenced by the original Landmark .
  • 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 Las Vegas opened 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.
Early Vegas Travel Info
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Region: South Strip, Strip

Mandalay Bay

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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Region: Off-Strip


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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Region: Strip


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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Region: Strip

MGM Grand

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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Caesars Palace

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...
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Region: Strip

Planet Hollywood

While located directly in the middle of the Strip, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas offers anything you could want in a Las Vegas hotel. From trendy restaurants to hip clubs to adult entertainment, this joint has got it all....
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Region: Strip


From the top of the Paris Hotel and Casinos Eiffel Tower French restaurant, Las Vegas sparkles below from 11 stories high. In addition to great views and food, the Paris-themed hotel on the Strip offers a great pool and...
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Region: South Strip, Strip


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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Region: Strip

Monte Carlo

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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Region: Off-Strip


Get ready to party at the Carnival-themed Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino right on the Strip! The non-stop party vibe happening at the Rio is thanks to surprising touches like the host of 'bevertainers' ready to serve you...
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Region: Off-Strip, Strip

The Signature Las Vegas

Providing luxury accommodations, The Signature at MGM Grand perfect for families. The rooms feature a fully-equipped kitchen and a spacious bathroom with a jetted tub. While The Signature is a non-gambling, non-smoking...
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Region: Henderson, Off-Strip, Southeast

Green Valley Ranch

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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The Life & Death of the El Rancho Vegas 1941-1960


Las Vegas El Rancho
1955 view of the Strip's first casino, the 1941 El Rancho, showing the marquee for the 1951 Opera House (which replaced the earlier Round-Up Room). The El Rancho burned down in 1960 after a 19 year existence.

El Rancho Vegas
The 1941 El Rancho's windmill was the first neon casino sign on the Las Vegas Strip

El Ran Picures Las Vegas
The 1941 construction of the Strip's first casino-hotel. The El Rancho Vegas.

El Rancho Photograph

Firt Las Vegas Casino
The El Rancho was located at what is now the westside of the Strip near the Sahara intersection (known then as Highway 91 and San Francisco Street).

El Rancho Las Vegas
Looking north towards Downtown at the Los Angeles Highway and the El Rancho Vegas. The El Rancho was part of a 1940s, four hotel chain built (by California hotelman Thomas Hull) just outside of the 1941 LV city limits.

Old El Rancho
Looking west towards the El Rancho.
El Ran
Lounging on the lawns of the El Rancho 1942.

El Rancho Fire
The 1960 fire and destruction of the El Rancho.

Then & Now on the North Strip
Desert Inn Las Vegas
THEN. Circa 1970 view of the 1950 Desert Inn (showing the 1956 Skyroom expansion and the 1963 Room Tower).

NOW. 2007 view of the same location as above (showing the building of Steve Wynn's Encore on the site of the old Desert Inn).

Frontier Las Vegas Nevada
THEN. Early 70s view of the 1967 remodeled Frontier (first opened in 1942) and its roadsign. When first erected,the sign was the tallest freestanding sign in the world - beating the record formerly held by the 1958 Stardust and the 1965 Dunes' signs.

Wynn Encore
NOW. 2007 view of the approximate same location as above (showing the Frontier sign still standing). The Wynn Hotel is seen across the street (built on the land formerly occupied by the Colony Motel and assorted buildings). The Trump Tower's sales office was built next to the Frontier sign in 2004. The Wynn Encore is seen just beyond the Frontier sign.

Desert Inn Vegas
THEN. In 1978, the Desert Inn remodeled its 1963 Room Tower and added the first mirrored glass ever seen on a Las Vegas hotel.The former ranch-house styling of the DI was changed to look more like a corporate office building. The old, sheet metal cactus signwas replaced by a mirrored glass sign. In 1997, the DI was remodeled again. It closed permanently in 2003.

Encore Las Vegas
NOW. The exact same location, as above, as seen in June 2007 shows the Frontier sign still standing and the Wynn Encore being built on the former site of the Desert Inn. The Las Vegas Strip

Sand Las Vegas Strip
Early sixties view (circa 1963) looking north up the Strip from the current Venetian and Mirage - Treasure Island area. The unopened Landmark Tower is seen off in the distance (far right) and the Sahara Tower is seen at the far end of the Strip. The Wynn Hotel is now located at the first intersection beyond the Sands, where the red-roofed Colonial Motel is seen.

Sand and the Strip
THEN Mid-1950s view of the Strip looking north. The 1952 Sands is seen at right, at the current location of the Venetian. The parked cars on the left sit just in front of where Treasure Island's entrance now is, with the pirate lagoon nowlocated beyond the last parked car and the billboard advertising the Golden Nugget. The lot behind that now holds Fashion Show Mall. The pylon roadsign of 1955 New Frontier can be seen further down on the left. The Wynn Las Vegas hotel now towers exactly across the street from that spot. The current Strip entrance to the Mirage is exactly across the road from the Sands' driveway.

Sands Vegas Hotel
NOW 2007 view from the same location as above. The Venetian replaced the Sands, 2 years after its 1996 demolition.

Sands Las Vegas hotel
THEN The Sands Casino in 1962. The entrance and exit drive-way is the exact same now used at the Venetian. The Sands Casino was located where the current Venetian's gondolas now float.

Las Vegas Taxis
NOW The same location (as seen above) showing the former Sand's site and same street intersection, as seen today. The original Sand's road sign was located near the spot where the second Venetian column (at mid-left) now stands.


Sands Hotel
The 1952 Sands (left) and the 1965 Sands (right) with its new, 17 story, circular room-tower and
re-designed roadsign. The Sands' revised logo shortened the top of the letter 'S' and bent the 'D'.

Sands Drawing
The 1965 Sands' property - showing the original low-rise motel wings and the new high-rise hotel tower. Its room wings were named after popular racetracks. The Stardust, later, named its room wings after planets.

This current view shows the original Sands' driveway. The Sands roadsign was near where the second column now stands. The casino sat between the columns, the Venetian sign and in veranda area, with wings extending towards the right.

Rat Pack Las Vegas
The Rat Pack in front of the Sands' roadsign.

Sands Lawn AAA
The original Sands.

Sands in the Daytime
The re-designed 1965 logo and entrance sign to the remodeled Sands Casino.

Sands Copa Room
The Sands Copa Room, considered small by today's Las Vegas theater standards,
offered intimate performances with the top show-people of the 1950s-60s.

Sands Las Vegas at night
Sands by Night

Sands Pool Vegas Strip
Sands Pool

Las Vegas Venetian
The Venetian property now occupies the former site of the Las Vegas, Sands' Hotel.

Sands at night
The Las Vegas Strip 1968.

Stardust at Night
The original 1958 Stardust.

Flamingo Vegas
The re-modeled 1953 Flamingo.

Riviera Las Vegas
The 1955, nine-story, Riviera was the first high-rise on the Las Vegas Strip.

Dunes 1970
1970 view of the 1964 Dunes high-rise, room tower.

Frontier Las Vegas Sign
1977 view of two world's tallest free-standing signs, The Frontier and Stardust.

Dunes Tower
1977 view of the Dunes' 1965 Tower. This location is now the Bellagio lake and fountains.

Money Gamblers
Gambler's Money

Desert in Vegas Strip
1977 northward view of the future Wynn Encore Hotel site - between the former Desert Inn, the Flame Restaurant and Gold Key Motel. The Riviera is father down on the right.

DuneLs Vegas Strip
The Strip (looking north toward the Flamingo intersection) showing the Dunes and the MGM roadsigns circa 1976. The Bellagio is now located where the Dunes sign once stood and Ballys now owns the original MGM Grand. This photo was taken from the center of the Strip, near where the Paris Eiffel Tower is now standing.

Top of the Dunes
Looking north, up the Strip, towards Downtown - from the 'Top of the Dunes' 1965. Now the Bellagio.
Flamingo's Champagne Tower is at bottom right, the 1965 Sands Tower at mid-right & Fremont Hotel top right. Stardust Showgirl
Stardust advertising.

Slot Machine
The Realm of the Coin.

Early Vegas
Evette Carlson - 1959 Las Vegas Showgirl.

Desert Inn Las Vegas
The 1950 Desert Inn at the current location of the Wynn Encore. Before & After - Around Las Vegas

Dune and Bellagio
Before & After. The same location showing the Dunes (in 1977) and the Bellagio (in 1998).

Las Vegas Beginnings - The Strip

Table Slot
The first table-mounted slot-machine was installed on the Strip in 1954.

First Video Slot Machine
The first electronic video slot-machine was introduced in 1966.

Dunes Galaxy Vegas Strip
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.

Strip before Ceasers Palace
1964 view of the Strip and the Flamingo Hotel (looking north). The vacant land on lower left, with billboards
(then owned by Kirk Kerkorian) would later become the location for the 1966 Caesar's Palace.
The Imperial Palace and Harrahs would later be built just north of the Flamingo Capri room wings.

Strip las Vegas and Dunes Hotel and casino
1966 view of the Strip and the four corners of the Flamingo Road intersection. The Flamingo is seen just before its 1967 remodeling. Caesar's Palace is seen the year after its 1966 opening. The Dunes sign and parking lot are now the location of the Bellagio Lake and fountains. The vacant lot, on the right was the site of the Three Coins motel and later the 1973 MGM Grand. The Desert Villa Motel is seen on the northeast corner later becoming the Times Square Motel (in 1975) and the site of the 1978 Barbary Coast (now Bill's Casino).
Ceasers Construction Las VegasStrip
The construction of Caesar's Palace 1966.

Stardust Hotel Las Vegas Strip
The beginning of the super-motel concept started at Stardust Casino Hotel - seen here after its 1965

Flamingo Las Vegas
Before Kirk Kerkorian built his International Hotel, he purchased the Flamingo and had it remodeled in 1967. The 1953 Champagne Tower was removed, the building was made flush with the road (instead of being set on its former diagonal) a covered driveway was included with a plexiglass backlit sign (which was redone in 1969 after being sold to the Hilton chain). A skyroom restaurant was built above the new porte cochere that looked out onto the new Caesar's Palace fountains directly across the road. The plume shaped Flamingo roadsign was also added and the former (1953 reversed 'F') neon Flamingo sign was re-set in the parking area. During the 1980s and 90s, the Flamingo was extended into the parking area - going beyond the plume sign nearly to where the Flamingo Capri sign is seen (at far left). O'Shea's is now located close to where the Capri sign was located.

Stardust to Paradise - The Moon Landing Casinos
Kirk Kerkorian's International & Howard Hughes' Landmark.


The road to the Landmark & International, as seen from near the Stardust, in 1977. Convention Center Road and Riviera Road are among the Strip's shortest major side streets. Convention Center Road started at the Stardust and ended at the Convention Center on Paradise Road.

Convention center Las Vegas
The flying saucer shaped Las Vegas Convention Center opened in April 1959. Convention Center
Road ran from Paradise Road to the Strip and ended at the Stardust Hotel.

Hotel Convention Center
In 1963, construction started on the Landmark Hotel, seen diagonally across from the Convention Center. The circular design of the Landmark mirrored the look of the Convention Center. Partly inspired by the Seattle Space-Needle, the Landmark sat 3/4 completed and empty until purchased by Howard Hughes in 1968. Meanwhile Kirk Kerkorian was building the International Hotel just next to the Convention Center (left).

Hughes Landmark
Las Vegas welcoming Howard Hughes. The Landmark was Howard Hughes' first casino opening.

Stardust Watercolor
In the late 1950s there were no stop-lights on the Strip. To slow vehicles down, citizens petitioned
for a stoplight to be placed somewhere on the Strip.

Birds Landmark
View of the Landmark as seen from the Strip in 1966. The Thunderbird is seen in the foreground, soon after its 1965 remodeling, when the entire front was covered by the world's longest neon sign-facade.

Las Vegas Bingo Sign The Stratosphere Tower would open in 1996,
becoming the new towering landmark for Las Vegas - influenced by the original Landmark .

High View Strip
Looking west at the Landmark, the Stardust, the Riviera and the La Madre mountains, in the distance (circa late 1970s). Red Rock Canyon and the beginnings of Summerlin can also be seen. The History of Kirk Kerkorian and the MGM Grand.

MGM dusk picture

MGM Night Driveway
MGM Grand's night driveway, in 1977.

Kirk Kerkorian
The builder and operator of three consecutive 'world's largest hotels', Kirk Kerkorian holds the title as the longest reigning King of Las Vegas.

MGM Las Vegas
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.