1950-1999 Did You Know Las Vegas

Las Vegas' Golden Era: The Birth of a Showbiz Mecca

Las Vegas Starts Expanding Beyond Imagination

Step into the golden era of Las Vegas from 1950 to 1999, a time when the city truly began to sparkle. This period saw the birth and rise of iconic casinos, legendary entertainment acts, and a burgeoning tourism industry. Each fact in this collection encapsulates the glamour, innovation, and excitement that defined Las Vegas as the ultimate showbiz mecca. From the Rat Pack's reign to the era of mega-resorts, discover the stories that turned a desert oasis into a global entertainment powerhouse.

Reliving the Glitz and Glamour of Classic Las Vegas

Dive into the heart of Las Vegas’s glitz and glamour, reliving the moments that made the city synonymous with luxury and entertainment. Explore how legendary performers, visionary entrepreneurs, and monumental events contributed to the city’s allure. As you journey through this era, let your curiosity guide you to further explore the earlier foundations (1900-1949) and the city’s continued evolution into the 21st century (2000-2023).


Did You Know Las Vegas 1stLasVegasGuide.com

(1-50) 1950-1999 Did You Know...

1956: The first high-stakes poker game was held at the Horseshoe Casino.
1957: Liberace became the highest-paid entertainer in Vegas history.
1958: The Stardust debuted the first-ever sportsbook in Las Vegas.
1959: The Convention Center, Las Vegas’ major event venue, opened.
1960: The first 24-hour car race was held at the Stardust Raceway.
1961: The Sahara Space Center, the first commercial high-altitude balloon launch, occurred.
1962: The Rat Pack filmed “Ocean’s 11” across various Vegas casinos.
1963: The Castaways Hotel and Casino opened on the Strip.
1964: The Beatles performed their only Las Vegas concert.
1965: The La Concha Motel, known for its distinctive architecture, opened.
1966: The Aladdin Hotel opened, featuring an Arabian Nights theme.
1967: The Las Vegas Marathon began, one of the oldest in the U.S.
1968: The Mint 400 off-road race was first held in Las Vegas.
1969: The Landmark Hotel opened with its unique architectural design.
1970: Liberace opened his museum in Las Vegas.
1971: The Plaza Hotel and Casino opened in Downtown Las Vegas.
1972: The original MGM Grand Hotel (now Bally’s) opened.
1973: Elvis Presley’s record-breaking live concert attendance at the Las Vegas Hilton.
1974: Evel Knievel’s son, Robbie, successfully jumped over the Caesar’s Palace fountains.
1975: The Nevada State Legislature legalized off-track betting on horse races.
1976: The “Battle of the Network Stars” was first held in Las Vegas.
1977: The Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix, featuring go-kart racing, opened.
1978: The first Las Vegas Grand Prix Formula One race was held.
1979: The Las Vegas Sun reported its first million-dollar casino win.
1980: The opening of the Barbary Coast Hotel and Casino, known for its Victorian-era theme.
1951: The Thunderbird Hotel and Casino opened, known for its Native American theme.
1953: The first Helldorado Days parade and rodeo event took place in Las Vegas.
1955: The Royal Nevada opened, promising luxury but unfortunately closed a year later.
1957: The iconic Showboat Casino, known for its bowling alleys, opened.
1959: The first 500-room hotel, the Tropicana, was constructed in Las Vegas.
1961: The Las Vegas Convention Center hosted its first major trade show.
1963: The first private high-limit gambling room was introduced at the Sands.
1966: The Red Rooster became the first nightclub to offer topless showgirls.
1968: The first National Finals Rodeo was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
1970: The Landmark Hotel and Casino hosted its grand opening with a futuristic theme.
1972: The first luxury high-rise apartments, Regency Towers, opened in Las Vegas.
1974: Las Vegas hosted its first major professional boxing match at Caesars Palace.
1976: The first Las Vegas ‘Superstar Theatre’ opened at the Riviera.
1978: The first Las Vegas International Film Festival was held.
1980: The Silverbird Hotel was renovated and reopened as the El Rancho Casino.
1982: The first Las Vegas balloon festival took place, featuring hot air balloons.
1984: The opening of the first mega-buffet, the Bacchanal at Caesars Palace.
1986: The first Las Vegas Grand Prix for Indy cars was held.
1988: The first major rock concert at the Thomas & Mack Center took place.
1990: The opening of the first mega-resort with a family theme, Excalibur.
1992: The first computerized sports betting system was introduced in Las Vegas.
1994: The Las Vegas International Marathon celebrated its 25th anniversary.
1996: The Monte Carlo Resort and Casino opened, featuring European elegance.
1998: The first IMAX theater in Las Vegas opened at the Luxor.
1999: The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino hosted its first major boxing match.

(51-100) 1950-1999 Did You Know...

1950: The Desert Inn, a luxurious hotel-casino, opened its doors on April 24.
1951: The iconic Silver Slipper casino opened, known for its rotating neon sign.
1952: The Sahara Hotel, famed for its Moroccan theme, was inaugurated.
1953: The Sands Hotel and Casino opened, eventually becoming a Rat Pack favorite.
1954: The Moulin Rouge Hotel opened on May 24, as the first racially integrated hotel-casino.
1955: The Dunes Hotel, with a distinctive 35-foot tall sultan statue, opened.
1956: Elvis Presley’s first Las Vegas performance took place at the New Frontier.
1957: The Tropicana Hotel, known for its lavish shows, made its debut.
1958: Stardust Resort and Casino, famous for its space-themed décor, opened.
1959: The first Las Vegas Jazz Festival was held, drawing notable musicians.
1960: The iconic Rat Pack, led by Frank Sinatra, performed at the Sands.
1961: The first World Series of Poker event took place at Binion’s Horseshoe.
1962: The Beatles stayed at the Sahara during their inaugural U.S. tour.
1963: The Riviera Hotel hosted the first topless show, “Minsky’s Follies.”
1964: The Flamingo Hotel was purchased by mobster Bugsy Siegel.
1965: Caesars Palace, with its Roman theme, opened on August 5.
1966: Howard Hughes began his property buying spree with the Desert Inn.
1967: Evel Knievel made his notorious motorcycle jump over Caesars Palace fountains.
1968: Circus Circus, the first family-oriented casino in Vegas, opened.
1969: The International Hotel, the world’s largest hotel at the time, opened.
1970: The first Earth Day celebration in Vegas took place.
1971: Union Plaza Hotel, at the time the largest hotel/casino, opened.
1972: The first electronic slot machine, “21”, was introduced in Vegas.
1973: The MGM Grand Hotel (now Bally’s) opened as the world’s largest hotel.
1974: The Landmark Hotel, known for its unique futuristic design, opened.
1975: The Silverbird Hotel and Casino replaced the Thunderbird Hotel.
1976: The original MGM Grand suffered a tragic fire, leading to improved fire safety standards.
1977: Nevada legalized gambling devices in bars.
1978: The first “Battle of the Network Stars” was held in Las Vegas.
1979: The first Las Vegas Grand Prix Formula One race took place.
1980: The MGM Grand Hotel fire occurred, one of the deadliest in U.S. history.
1981: The first Las Vegas Marathon was officially recognized.
1982: The opening of the Barbary Coast Hotel and Casino.
1983: Michael Jackson filmed parts of his “Thriller” video in Las Vegas.
1984: The Las Vegas Hilton hosted the Star Trek Convention.
1985: The first high-rise condo, Regency Towers, was inaugurated in Vegas.
1986: The opening of the Las Vegas Hilton’s “Star Trek: The Experience.”
1987: Steve Wynn purchased and revitalized the Golden Nugget Casino.
1988: The Mirage’s iconic volcano attraction was unveiled.
1989: The Mirage, the first mega-resort in Las Vegas, opened.
1990: The opening of the Excalibur Hotel and Casino with a medieval theme.
1991: The Luxor Hotel and Casino, featuring a large pyramid, opened.
1992: The Dunes Hotel and Casino was closed and later imploded.
1993: The Luxor’s Sky Beam, the strongest beam of light in the world, was first lit.
1994: The opening of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, then the largest hotel in the world.
1995: The Fremont Street Experience, a massive overhead light show, opened.
1996: Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S., opened.
1997: The New York-New York Hotel and Casino, featuring a Manhattan skyline, opened.
1998: The Bellagio, with its famous fountains, opened on October 15.
1999: The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino opened, featuring a detailed recreation of Venice.


As we all know, Las Vegas is a 24/7 city.  To list highlights of decades to a small list is really an injustice.  Space is limited. However, if you think we left an important date out of our list, please click the contact button below and share your information. Thank you.

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