Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 10, “A Place…

Author David G. Schwartz summarizes chapter 10, “A Place in the Sun: The Las Vegas Strip is Born,” of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling (Casino Edition).

This chapter covers the development of the Strip from the 1941 opening of the El Rancho Vegas into the 1960s. It discusses pioneers like Thomas Hull, Bill Moore, and Billy Wilkerson, and the infamous Bugsy Siegel who muscled Wilkerson out of the Flamingo casino.

It also explains the three factors that gave mob-connected casinos an advantage (for a time) in Las Vegas, discusses syndicate ownership as exemplified by the Desert Inn, and takes on topics as varied as the Rat Pack, the development of skill play and card-counting, and the desegregation of the Strip and Downtown.

If you don’t see a video, go here: 

The Columbus of Highway 91 in Vegas Seven

This week, I’m privileged to have a cover story in Vegas Seven. It’s about the mostly-unsung hotelier who, I think, is the real discoverer of the Las Vegas Strip, Thomas Hull: The natural advantages of Las Vegas, Fisher said, would make it “the metropolis of Nevada,” but only if properly pushed: “If a good hotel … Read more

Book review: The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister

There always seem to be a few lamentations when someone pulls down a Strip icon, but the protests are getting more and more muted. That’s mostly because Las Vegas resort architecture seems to be essentially disposable; it’s built for specific market conditions, and when they change, it is renovated beyond recognition or replaced. It’s just a fact of life.

But there are some people who treasure the “classic” Vegas designs, though classic in this context doesn’t have much meaning. Does it mean buildings dating from the 1940s? 1950s? 1960s? Or is it just a catch-all phrase for any casino old enough to have a really inefficient air handling system? If you walk out reeking of smoke, you’re in Classic Vegas, but if not, you’re in sanitized “corporate” Vegas.

Still, there are a several architects whose work deserves to be remembered, both of its evolutionary significance and its own aesthetic merit. One of these is Wayne McAllister, and, as can be imagined, this book is about him.

Read more