After its founding on May 15, 1905, through a land auction, Las Vegas was only a stopover for many years. However, it was after the onset of World War II that ambitious businesspeople started planning the city’s bright future. In the 1940s, Las Vegas positioned itself as a town that united the Wild West’s hospitality with the Strip’s glitz and excitement. Nearly every decade after the 1940s, Las Vegas transformed into a brand-new tourist paradise. Beginning in the 1950s, the city became a major center for the entertainment industry.

When Vegas’ population was probably about 50,000, it officially became a city. Over time, it earned a reputation for spectacular shows and events. Each new resort, casino, or entertainment establishment strived to surpass its predecessor in terms of opulent features and themed glitz, and this competition continues today. It wasn’t long before it became the nation’s favorite vacation spot. Music headliners like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra breathed life into Las Vegas.

These days, Las Vegas is teeming with five-star hotels. However, this can be traced back to the 1950s. Every hotel had to have a pool since the temperature often surpassed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Gambling also started to thrive in the city, with the beautiful and wealthy of the world flocking to the casino tables in Las Vegas. The gambling culture of Vegas gave rise to the new online casinos and poker rooms we have today. Players who want to play poker and relive the Vegas atmosphere can experience the excitement of online poker at its finest by checking Top10PokerSites for the best online poker sites in their location.

As the city expanded quickly, renowned hotel brands like the Sahara, Sands, and Tropicana emerged. New gambling establishments also started to emerge, creating a city known as the “World Gambling Capital” in the process. Without much ado, let’s go back in time for a while. 

Iconic Casinos of Old-School Vegas

Gambling was an order of the day in Vegas, and these casinos were the best of the old era as they attracted celebrities and people from all walks of life. 

1. Flamingo

On December 26, 1946, Bugsy Siegel opened the luxurious Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Its original name was “The Fabulous Flamingo.” After El Rancho Vegas and the Last Frontier, this was the third resort constructed on the Las Vegas Strip. The Flamingo Hotel’s opening was disappointing, though. There were fewer Hollywood stars in attendance because of the weather.

Gamblers who won at the casino had nowhere to stay, so they went elsewhere to try their luck. During its first week of operation, the casino lost $300,000. The hotel and casino have survived several ownership changes and brand changes. It is currently called The Flamingo Las Vegas.

2. Stardust

The Stardust Hotel and Casino, which opened in 1958, was another popular destination since it included the most prominent gambling establishment and swimming pool in all of Nevada. The facility was also well-known for its massive neon display and slightly unclothed showgirls.

Stardust also drew some clandestine activity. The highly illuminated sign of the Stardust, which depicted a 216-foot-long cosmos of heavenly planets connected by a circular Earth surrounded by a satellite, was the most noticeable aspect of the hotel from the road.

The sign and the Big Dipper pool, measuring 105 feet long, were firsts in history. The Stardust grew throughout the ’60s. The addition of a new nine-story tower and multiple dining venues brought the hotel’s overall room count to almost 1,500. Like many casinos of the era, Stardust ran into several issues, and it is now defunct.

3. Sands

After achieving success in the Las Vegas restaurant business, Jake Freedman opened The Sands Hotel on December 15, 1952. The Sands Hotel opened its 200 rooms to the public as a casino. There was a lot of buzz about the opening, and in only a few hours, over 12,000 individuals checked into the hotel.

The Sands was a haven for those who enjoyed gambling. It was an opportunity for visitors to witness opulence and get acquainted with Hollywood A-listers. Even the resort itself gained recognition as a celebrity itself. The Sands was a pale reflection of its former glory in its closing years, a relic of the past that was no match for the glitz and glamour of the larger, more luxurious mega-resorts springing up along the Strip. 

Legendary Performers of Old-School Vegas

Las Vegas was home to several star performers, including Frank Sinatra, and his Rat Pack friends, and Elvis Presley, heartily called the “King of Rock and Roll.” Let’s discuss a bit about them.

  • Frank Sinatra

When Frank Sinatra first came to Las Vegas in 1951, he played at the Desert Inn. When the Sands opened in 1952, Sinatra did two nightly shows. Sinatra was frequent in Sin City, often staying for a few weeks and performing at the Sands Casino Resort at least three times a year. Unsurprisingly, the city was packed for his gigs, which brought in millions for the local hotels and restaurants.

Because of his charm, grace, and talent, he electrifies the atmosphere whenever he enters a room. Those who witnessed Frank Sinatra perform reported that being in his audience was like being at the center of the musical world. His demeanor was always that of a gentleman. In 1994, Sinatra had his farewell concert in Las Vegas. After he died in 1998, the lights on the Sin City Strip were rendered dim as a tribute to him.

  • Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley’s first Las Vegas performance was at the New Frontier Hotel in 1956. Thousands of people came to witness Elvis shake his hips, causing quite a sensation in the capital. When he returned to Las Vegas in 1969, he performed at a sold-out event at the International Hotel. With “Suspicious Minds,” which peaked at No. 1, he was experiencing a renaissance in his career.

In the subsequent seven years, Presley played 837 sold-out concerts. It was believed that half of Las Vegas’ guests saw Elvis perform during the years he was a headliner there. Elvis left an indelible mark on Vegas during his seven years there, and the city still has statues and souvenirs dedicated to his legacy.

Final Thoughts

Las Vegas rarely follows trends. Instead, she creates it. The neon metropolis has always provided the best value for money regarding entertainment, from its humble beginnings in the 1940s to today’s supercharged Strip. Vegas never sleeps. It throbs with glitz and glamour.