Saturday, March 21, 2015

1960s and 1970s in Las Vegas

The 1960's brought the debut of the slot machines.  Some of these machines would accept up to a $500 token.  The jackpots grew over time from $100 to $10 million today. 

    The Rat Pack was in town filming Ocean's Eleven.  The rat pack was chairing a summit meeting at the Sands Hotel.  The group included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter :Lawford, and Joey Bishop. 

    The building boom took a brief rest when the El Rancho burned down in 1960.  It wasn't until 1966 that another hotel was built.  The Aladdin was opened and was quite an exotic Arabian Night type of hotel.  Howard Hughes burst into town in the late 60's and went on a shopping spree of land and hotels costing more than $300 million.

    The Circus Circus opened in 1968 and Las Vegas had become a family destination as well.  With the circus acts over the casino floors, adults and children could partake in the shows.  Elvis Presley returned in 1969 to the International showroom and his fans had grown up enough to enjoy the show.

    In 1971, the Union Plaza, a 500 room hotel, opened at the head of Fremont Street.  Merv Griffin started taping his shows at Caesar's Palace.  He made the city a little more famous by bringing it into people's homes each night on the television.

    1973 saw Siegfried and Roy's first show open at the Tropicana.  They would turn women into tigers in their show “Folies Begere.”  They became world class illusionists in their own right.

    The 1970's also brought two major disasters to Las Vegas.  The first was a flash flood that hit the main strip and wound up costing more than $1 million in damage.  The second was that gambling was legalized in Atlantic City and this took a lot of tourists away from Las Vegas.  Dollar slot machines were brought out at the end of the decade.

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