Vintage color photographs show the early days of Las Vegas' nightlife, 1950s


These photos of the Las Vegas Strip in the 1950s were taken by LIFE photographer Loomis Dean and capture the nightlife and long-standing landmarks of Sin City.

The 1950s was a defining era for Las Vegas. This was the decade that saw the rise of the Riviera, Sands and Dunes, where Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, along with millions of other tourists, flocked to the Strip. There were dancers, mobsters, weddings, gamblers and the glamor of post-war America.

By 1951 the Thunderbird Hotel, Desert Inn and Silver Slipper had joined El Rancho, New Frontier and Flamingo on the Strip.

Then several new properties were built in quick succession: Sahara (1952), The Sands (1952), Royal Nevada (1955), Riviera (1955), The Dunes (1955), Hacienda (1956), The Tropicana (1957) , and in addition to off-strip properties such as Stardust (1958), Showboat (1954), Fremont (1956), and the ground-breaking Moulin Rouge (1955).

Each new hotel-casino owner sought out high-quality entertainment and hired the best local musicians available for their in-house orchestra. They also hired entertainment directors, dancers, stagers, clients, and everyone else needed to put on a first-rate show.

After arriving to see these stars, tourists begin to gamble, and then eat the delicious buffet that has become a staple of the casino industry.

As the city became a gambling hub, illegal activities took hold, and during the 1950s and 1960s several fake scandals surfaced in the press.

More than 8 million people visited Las Vegas annually in 1954, pumping $200 million into the casino, which consolidated its image as "wild, late-night, full of exotic entertainment". The population increased dramatically from 8,422 to over 45,000 during World War II.

The Vegas Vic, the unofficial, yet most widely used name for Las Vegas, a 40-foot neon sign representing a cowboy, was built in 1951 over the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas.

The sign was a departure from typeface-based neon signs in graphic design to a friendly and welcoming human form of a cowboy. The creation of the giant neon cowhand was based on an image that was part of a promotional campaign launched with the slogan "Still a Frontier Town".

The voice message transmitted every 15 minutes was "Howdy, sorry" by a mechanically operated image. People did not like this sound and hence its broadcast was stopped.

The original figure (now restored) was 40 feet in height, weighing about 6 tons (which was then considered the largest mechanical contraption sign of its kind in the world).

Sanket waved his arms, blinked, grabbed a cigarette, and let out rings of smoke. Its dress consisted of a cowboy hat, blue jeans, boots, a yellow check shirt and a bandana.

The New Frontier Hotel was the site of Elvis Presley's first show in Las Vegas from 23 April 1956. The 12-story Fremont Hotel and Casino, located at 200 Fremont Street, opened on May 18, 1956 and was then the tallest building in downtown Las Vegas. many years.

It was designed by architect Wayne McAllister, and at its opening it had 155 rooms, cost $6 million to open, and was owned by Ed Levinson and Lou Lurie.

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