Lost Vegas

This is more of a photocentric blog, but here’s some pics that remind me of why I moved to Las Vegas in the first place. The kicker–hence the title–is that most of the pics are from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. You know, back when Vegas had more character, more neon, and plenty of mob ties. Thanks to LeavingLV.net and their handy Facebook page for most of the pics. To reiterate, this is what comes to my mind when I think of this town:

Caesars racetrack/Grand Prix, on the ground where the Forum Shoppes now stand (the Forum Tower to the left still stands, but with an updated facade)

Caesars Palace, 1966 (the year it opened)

Vintage Caesars at dusk

Circus Circus, 1977 (still looks much the same besides the fountains being filled in)

This is a fur coat-ed lady sliding down the slide that once slid right into the main casino of Circus Circus. I love this pic for so many reasons, but mainly because she slid down that slide in a fur coat.

The fabulous Dunes…this was on the hallowed ground where Bellagio now stands. I’ve read so many great stories about this place before it started declining and got bought out by Steve Wynn to build Bellagio.

Elvis at the International (later the Hilton and now the LVH) as it was going up, most likely in ’68

The Flamingo’s new porte cochere, circa 1968. This is long, long gone, but how nice it looked at the time (as it should’ve, since it cost $1 million to construct).

The quaint, award-winning Hacienda hotel/casino’s buffet in 1964–this place was bulldozed to make way for Mandalay Bay in the 90s.

Howdy from Union Plaza in downtown Vegas! This pool was built above the hotel’s porte cochere. The same footprint now showcases former mayor Oscar Goodman’s steakhouse, aptly named Oscar’s.

Howard Hughes’s Landmark hotel…this place was a money pit even before it finished getting built, and it never turned a profit. Its implosion was filmed for the 90s film ‘Mars Attacks!’, which is the main reason it’s remembered at all.

Le Riviera as seen from Circus Circus’s pink-lit fountains

MGM Grand (now Bally’s), 1978

MGM marquee, back when they had their Jai Alai fronton. Oh, & Florence Henderson.

An MGM Grand suite soiree in ’74…this place was the largest hotel in the world when it was built, and it set new standards for luxury until the disastrous 1980 fire which killed 85 people.

MGM Grand ballroom in ’74, complete with the MGM lion!

MGM Grand porte cochere, post-fire in ’83

Le Riviera in 1955

Screenshot of Le Riv from the original ‘Ocean’s 11’

The Sahara, complete with Don the Beachcomber restaurant’s signage and Liza as a headliner…classic.

The Sahara marquee featuring a slew of headliners

Sahara at night

The Sands, before it was demolished to make way for the Venetian

Sands’s suites and rooms from the 60s/70s

Screenshot of the Sands from ‘Ocean’s 11’

The Stardust in its heyday

The Stardust right before its implosion…I visited there not long before its demise, and the place really was a dump. Sad, b/c that highrise tower was only built in the early 90s.

The Strip in 1980

The Strip, late 80s

The Thunderbird, 1969

Vegas in the 70s

Vintage Vegas…I have an 8X10 of this in my bathroom and love the detail of all the signage.

So if all these images are what I think of when I think of Vegas, what am I doing here in 2012? I’d wanted to move out here since 2005, and though this town reinvents itself so fast it’s not funny, it’s the undisputed mecca of hospitality and there’s no better place to get some good life experience than here, at least for me. (Wow, that was a long sentence.) Has the novelty worn off in less than six months? Sure it has, just as I expected it would. But I still feel like a tourist every single day I wake up, and that’s not something most people can say. You only live once, right?


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