Vintage Las Vegas

Vintage Las Vegas

The mention of Vegas conjures up bright lights, 5-star resorts and cruising down The Strip. But what a lot of people don’t know is that when you’re cruising down The Strip and bypassing Caesars, The Venetian and The Mirage, you’re most likely in unincorporated Clark County and not within the Las Vegas city limits at all.

Fremont Street, on the other hand—Las Vegas’ first paved street—is within the city limits and it was here where Vegas’ got its reputation for world class gaming and entertainment. Golden Nugget, Fremont Hotel and Casino, and The Pioneer Club’s Vegas Vic are all icons of the street.

Now, you’re probably wondering how The Strip came about.

The Strip didn’t show signs of development until the early 1930s, with the opening of Pair-O-Dice Club. This was the first nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip (then called the Los Angeles-Arrowhead Highway) and its main attraction was gambling (before gambling was even legal in Nevada). It wasn’t until the 1940s, though, that The Strip saw a lot of change. The Last Frontier Hotel was built on and around the Pair-O-Dice property, the now-defunct El Rancho Vegas (now the location of MGM Resorts Festival Grounds) became a major player in entertainment and gambling, and the still-up-and-running Flamingo became the first luxury hotel on The Strip.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Vegas.

Now, if all this Sin City history has you wondering what life was like before your time, you’re in luck. Vintage Las Vegas is a 20th century photographic archive of the city, showcasing original slides, negatives and prints, as well as photos curated from the Las Vegas News Bureau, UNLV Digital Collection, LIFE Photo Archive, and others.

The collection can be searched by year or property name, too, so you can get a sense of what your fave LV resort looked like before you or even your parents were around.

View from the Riviera, 1964, with the Algiers and Thunderbird hotels below. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

View from the Riviera, 1964, with the Algiers and Thunderbird hotels below. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Frank at the Sands, 1959 © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Frank at the Sands, 1959 © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Vintage Primm. 1995, photo by James Marshall.

Vintage Primm. 1995, photo by James Marshall.

Over the Flamingo, 1949. This is 70 years ago, looking north over a 2-lane Las Vegas Strip/Hwy 91. The second photo is 1952. The Strip has been widened, and the Sands is under construction. Photo by Las Vegas News Bureau.

Over the Flamingo, 1949. This is 70 years ago, looking north over a 2-lane Las Vegas Strip/Hwy 91. The second photo is 1952. The Strip has been widened, and the Sands is under construction. Photo by Las Vegas News Bureau.

Welcome ✴︎ 1971 © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Welcome ✴︎ 1971 © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

1969. Fremont St at Eastern Ave looking west. Vegas Motel, Blue Angel Motel, and Blue Onion Drive-In on the left. Par-a-Dice Inn and Desert Hills Motel on the right. Desert Hills remains open, and repainted their sign last fall. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

1969. Fremont St at Eastern Ave looking west. Vegas Motel, Blue Angel Motel, and Blue Onion Drive-In on the left. Par-a-Dice Inn and Desert Hills Motel on the right. Desert Hills remains open, and repainted their sign last fall. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Over the Strip, January 11, 1961. We’re looking south over the area where Palazzo, Venetian, The Mirage, and Treasure Island now stand. To the left: Sands, Kit Carson Motel, and Tam O’Shanter Motel which lasted to 2005. On the right: Sans Souci Hotel, service stations, and the private residence of Grace Hayes. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram


Over the Strip, January 11, 1961. We’re looking south over the area where Palazzo, Venetian, The Mirage, and Treasure Island now stand. To the left: Sands, Kit Carson Motel, and Tam O’Shanter Motel which lasted to 2005. On the right: Sans Souci Hotel, service stations, and the private residence of Grace Hayes. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Paradise Rd, July 1967. The Landmark is unfinished, still two years from opening. Turn left to get to the Sands. Nancy Ames, Della Reese performing. Unknown photographer.    #vintagevegas    © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Paradise Rd, July 1967. The Landmark is unfinished, still two years from opening. Turn left to get to the Sands. Nancy Ames, Della Reese performing. Unknown photographer. #vintagevegas © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

1974, morning view from Holiday Inn. This was taken from the first tower at what is now Harrahs, looking south, Flamingo Capri Motel in the foreground. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

1974, morning view from Holiday Inn. This was taken from the first tower at what is now Harrahs, looking south, Flamingo Capri Motel in the foreground. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Flamingo, 1959. Classic, mid century Las Vegas captured by a photographer with the LV News Bureau. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

Flamingo, 1959. Classic, mid century Las Vegas captured by a photographer with the LV News Bureau. © Vintage Las Vegas Instagram

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Rachel Ruiz-Oakley is the Managing Editor of Slide Night.