The Sahara (1951): Built in 1951,
today it is considered the very north end of the Strip, back
then it wasn’t “on the Strip” but the furthest point south
in the Downtown area. Many celebrities have graced the stage
and entertained guests from Don Rickles to Liza Minelli, Mae
West, Sonny and Cher. It was one of the Hotels “robbed” by
the Rat Pack in the original Oceans 11.
Sands (1951): For a time called La
Rue’s, Sands was built in 1951 and was one of the first and
most popular casinos of Las Vegas’ “golden age.” Reportedly
upon naming the hotel, the owner and infamous Houston Texas
gambler Freedman (or Friedman) said, “There’s so much sand
in this damned place that my socks are full of it! So why
don’t we call it ‘The Sand’ until it’s finished; then we’ll
call it the ‘Holiday Inn’.” It was a favorite of the Rat
Pack and featured many innovations like a “tram” that
carried gamblers back to their room.
Golden Gate Casino (1955): Right
in the middle of Downtown, right in the middle of all the
old-school action. Golden Gate Casino has gone through
several names, and has been “Golden Gate” since 1955. Under
other monikers it was the home of the first telephone in a
Las Vegas Casino and home of the first shrimp cocktail
offered in a casino.
Dunes (1955): Once set where you
will find the current day Bellagio, the land was a horse
ranch and bought by movie magnate All Gottesman and other
investors in order to build a luxurious hotel casino. It
only cost $5 million to build! You’d be hard pressed to find
a penthouse on the Strip at that price today. The Dunes was
another favorite scene for the who’s who of Hollywood,
Vegas, and the mob.
The Tropicana (1957): Back when
the Strip was mostly sand Ben Jaffe decided to buy 40 acres
of land a mile past the Flamingo and build the world’s
finest hotel casino. And for a time the Tropicana was indeed
the gem of Vegas.
Las Vegas Hilton (1960’s): Opened
in the late 60’s, at the time it was the world’s biggest
hotel. It was not part of the Hilton line of Hotels until
the 70’s. The Las Vegas Hilton was home of some of the most
storied boxing like the famous Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks,
and Mike Tyson and Tony Tucker fights. The Hilton is still
one of the most popular off-Strip casinos and home of the
world’s largest sports book today.