The skyline of The Strip, Las Vegas, has been changing since the early to late 1940s when the small building boom began. The first hotel on what would become The Strip was the Rancho Vegas opened in 1941, later destroyed by fire in 1960, followed by Hotel Last Frontier in 1942. The Flamingo by Bugsy Siegel opened in 1946 after World War II with its neon lights and pink flamingo lawn ornaments.
Las Vegas boom continues to accelerate and prosper in the 50’s bringing more casino-hotels. The Desert Inn opened in 1950, the Sahara in 1952, then the Sands (closed 1969 where the Venetian now stands), followed in 1955 by Hotel Riviera, the first Strip high rise at nine stories (closed 2015) with Liberace as its featured headliner and its traditional revue “Splash”. Then came along the Royal Nevada which was converted to become part of Stardust (which closed in 2006), followed by the Dunes (closed in 1993 where the Bellagio now stands) and Tropicana.
Also taking off with the rise of the resort hotels and casino is the entertainment industry. Consequently, people poured into Las Vegas not just for gambling but also for entertainment thus becoming a part of the “Rat Pack`entertainment experience of the 50s. Notably identified with the Rat Pack was singer-Hollywood actor Frank Sinatra together with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Marilyn Monroe, Shirley MacLaine, and Lauren Bacall. From the Desert Inn to the Sands and to MGM Grand, Frank Sinatra played to sold-out performances for 43 years.
In 1954 then actor and future President of the United States Ronald Reagan made his only appearance on a Las Vegas stage as a song-and-dance man at the Hotel Last Frontier with a singing group male quartet called `The Continentals“.
Ronald Reagan`s short-lived Las Vegas act also included chimpanzees which was cancelled because the chimpanzees got distracted and some started drinking.
With the Rat Pack Entertainment The Strip continued to expand and more resorts offer attractions geared toward the youth in an effort to attract families. As luxury resorts appeared so did the retailers, designers from Neiman Marcus to Gucci, Prada, and Tiffany, and also performers like Cirque de Soleil, Elton John, Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Mariah Carey, and J Lo.
Caesars Palace opened in 1966 with its Roman Empire theme. Its main performance venue is `The Colosseum` which was originally built at a cost of US$95 million for Canadian singer Celine Dion`s show “A New Day` in 2003. After a departure in 2007 Celine returned to the Colosseum in 2011 with her new show entitled `Celine` which is under contract for 70 shows per year through 2017. We`re mesmerised by her show in January 2016 just before it was cancelled due to her husband`s death. The spectacular show opens with videos submitted by her fans singing to Celine`s Ì Drove All Night ` while holding handwritten signs of affection in front of iconic landmarks from around the world before the superstar walks out on the stage singing `Ì Surrender` with the accompaniment of 31-piece orchestra band and back-up singers and with a 180-degree screen in the background. The two-hour show ended with the Titanic movie theme song “My Heart Will Go On`.
Perhaps the best hotel in town for kids, family-oriented Circus Circus opened in 1968 with an indoor amusement theme park called Adventuredome offering 25 rides and attractions including the Canyon Blaster Roller coaster, 18-hole miniature golf course, an arcade, clown shows, and other carnival-type games.
In 1969 the International Hotel opened, renamed Las Vegas Hilton in 1971, then renamed Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and changed to Westgate Las Vegas in 2014.
Newly renovated Westgate has deep roots in Las Vegas history as the hotel Elvis Presley called home back in the late 60s to 70s when he performed more than 800 consecutive sold-out shows. As a tribute to Elvis the hotel added a new Elvis Presley Graceland Wedding Chapel.