I remember the first time I landed in Las Vegas. Touching down on the runway was one amazing sight to remember. In the very short distance stood what can only be described as a real-life postcard. All the famous Las Vegas landmarks felt like they were within spitting distance. Luxor. Paris. The Stratosphere. Mandalay Bay. You could easily make out every single property without seeing their sign.
But Vegas is a mix of grand and flaunting, grand and hidden, and less-than-grand but equally famous. Today, we’re going to take a little trip down Las Vegas Boulevard and look at the history of Las Vegas through the eyes of the hotels and landmarks.
Among all the new themed properties of Las Vegas sits a relic of yesteryear that’s rich with history beyond imagination. We’re talking about Flamingo, the casino that started the Sin City revolution.
It was 1945 when world-famous mob boss Bugsy Siegel started to build the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in a desert that hadn’t quite become an Oasis (that would change with the Flamingo, though, when it opened in 1946). Once complete, the property was beyond grand, but it came with its share of disappointments.
Siegel’s financial supporters, many of whom had ties to organized crime, assumed that Siegel and other major players were stealing cash from the casino operation. The reason? The casino wasn’t financially successful from the get-go. That eventually changed, but Siegel ended up paying the price with his life. Hey, we never said history was all rainbows.
If you’ve been to the Planet Hollywood restaurant, you know it’s relatively horrible. It’s half-decent for a chain restaurant, but at the end of the day, well, it’s a chain restaurant. So when they announced that Aladdin would become a Planet Hollywood, many people, myself included, assumed it would be cheesy. And you know what? It is! At least is was, in terms of the Hollywood memorabilia in the room. But the property is undergoing a renovation project to make the rooms more funky and less I-love-Hollywood-esque.
The history of Planet Hollywood, however, is pretty significant. In its place stood the last incarnation of Aladdin. And before that stood the previous incarnation of Aladdin, which was eventually imploded. Thankfully, the bones of the current property are pretty good, so expect Planet Hollywood to stay up for a long time (though given Sin City’s history, the theme could change on a dime).
If you’ve been to Vegas before, you know that there are essentially two Sin Cities. There’s new Vegas, which is where you’ll find Bellagio, Palazzo, Trump, Fashion Show Mall, Paris, Monte Carlo, Mirage, Treasure Island, and other popular properties. And then there’s old Vegas. We’re talking Freemont Street, an enclosed street with hotels and casinos that’s famous for neon and lights.
In old school Vegas sits Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel. The property opened back in 1951 after Benny Binion purchased the Eldorado Club and Apache Hotel. But it wasn’t until 1970 that Binion’s became internationally famous. It was then that Jack Binion (Benny’s son) began hosting the World Series of Poker. While the series now takes place at The Rio in Las Vegas, the series was held there until 2004.
As iconic as Luxor’s pyramid or the Eifel Tower at Paris might be, one of Sin City’s most iconic landmarks is arguably The Plaza, a hotel and casino in old school Vegas. Even if you’ve never been to Vegas, you’ve probably seen The Plaza.
In The Hangover Part 3, you can see The Plaza in a few scenes. And in Back to the Future Part II, Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Palace is based on The Plaza (it looks just like it and is modeled after it). In that film, Biff has changed the courthouse into a casino hotel.
While The Plaza is an older property, it isn’t resting on its laurels. The Plaza is undergoing a major renovation of its rooftop pool, to make it more of an attractive scene for the downtown crowd.
It’s funny how a landmark that opened in 1996 can suddenly feel old. But The Stratosphere, which turns 20 years old at the end of this month, doesn’t really fit into new Vegas. Most of the new properties seemed to be clustered into the south and central end of Las Vegas Boulevard. But The Stratosphere is newer than Luxor, which sits on the south end.
The property is famous for its giant tower, a 1,149 ft observation that’s the tallest in the United States. While it’s a nice property to admire from afar, up close it’s even more impressive, especially if you make your way to the top. The Stratosphere features the Big Shot, which is the world’s highest thrill ride, plus SkyJump Las Vegas, a controlled bungee-jumping experience.
The Stratosphere is also profitable, so lots of people are visiting to catch a glimpse of this historical Las Vegas landmark.
Make History Yourself
If you want to make a little Vegas-style history of your own, sign up for a free account at Silver Oak Casino. We feature all the same games you’ll find on Las Vega Boulevard, minus the costs associated with traveling there. Sure, there’s something to be said about an actual trip to Vegas. The landmarks. The lights. The steakhouses (and wow, there are way more than you can imagine). We definitely recommend seeing Las Vegas history in action at least once.
And while you might want to make a trip to Las Vegas a regular part of your yearly travel plans, it’s great to be able to mix things up and enjoy casino games on a whim. With Silver Oak Casino, you can play your favorites from the comforts of home—and on the go. You’ll find software for PCs, an Instant Play option for Macs (which works on Windows, too), and a mobile-friendly app for iPhones, iPads, and Androids that doesn’t even require a download. Best of all, you can play for free—something you can’t do for Vegas no matter which property you might find yourself in. When you’re ready to play for real, you can make a deposit and hit the real money tables and slots. And who knows? You could win enough to build your own Las Vegas landmark and become a part of history.