Before everyone’s favorite stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard was known as the Las Vegas Strip, it was the sparser South Los Angeles Highway. The street’s first resort, El Rancho, opened in 1941, followed by the Last Fronteir in 1942 and the Flamingo in 1946. Of course, The Strip has undergone some major transformations and several implosions over the years and is now home to 50 major resorts.
Here are just a few postcards and photos of Las Vegas then and now.
When the Sahara opened in 1952, the one-story hotel was known for its casual, unhurried charm and modern conveniences. Over the years, the hotel accommodated legends like The Rat Pack, Jack Benny and The Beatles. More recently its Cyber Speedway, roller coaster and NASCAR Cafe has attracted those with the need for speed like NASCAR greats Kyle and Richard Petty. The Moroccan-themed Sahara has undergone several renovations over the years, with more expected in the future.
Sands (Now the Venetian)
The Sands opened in 1952 with only a few hundred rooms and added its iconic 500-room circular tower in the mind 1960s. Its Copa Room was the birthplace of The Rat Pack and the hotel itself was featured in the film “Oceans Eleven.” The Sands was imploded in 1996 to make way for the $1.8 billion, 4,027-room Venetian Resort.
Caesars Palace opened in 1966 and offered 700 rooms and suites, exciting entertainment in the Circus Maximus theater and lavish dining. Over the years the property has grown to more than 3,000 rooms in five towers, with a sixth to come in 2010. The Circus Maximus theater is gone, but the hotel continues its legacy as an entertainment and dining destination, with headliners like Bette Midler and Cher performing in The Colosseum and more two dozen restaurants between the hotel and adjoining Forum Shops.