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Downtown Las Vegas History

The Las Vegas Train Depot in 1904.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

This InOldLasVegas.com Website is divided into several categories covering various phases of Las Vegas history.

The Downtown section, below, explores Las Vegas life and casinos in the original Downtown Fremont Street area from 1932-1975.
Photos and information on Strip Casinos from 1941-73, show the first 17 Strip Hotels. Each Strip casino is further linked to individual
pages covering each casino separately and in full. The section called the Prelude to Las Vegas covers the early history of the Southwest
from the days of the 1848 Gold Rush in California - thru the Nevada Silver Bonanza, the Goldfield Mining Town and the events
before and after the 1905 birth of Las Vegas, including the 1931 legalization of gambling & quick divorces in Nevada.

To see photos of Casino Life & Culture (including Casino Ads and Publicity Photos) press here or use the Navigation Bar.
Old Las Vegas Film Footage can be seen on the Video Page where (96+ videos) can be seen on an embedded Video Player.
If you need Photos, Prints & Posters for your home or office take a look at the Photo Store where you can find beautiful
pictures of Old & New Las Vegas, Downtown & Strip Casinos, Gambling Art and wide, Modern Day Panoramas.

All 'Photo Store' prints are available framed or unframed - in assorted sizes & prices to fit your needs.

A complete listing of InOldLasVegas.com's contents can be seen on the Home Page or by pressing this Site Map Link.

This website covers the complete history of Las Vegas, its casinos, its Showgirls, its cultural aspects and Biographies of influential citizens.
There are also special pages on Retro Motels & Roadside Architecture & Drive-ins, a complete Las Vegas Book Store with over 650
great books on Vegas vacationing, history, design, casino management, gambling etc., a guide to the upcoming VegasVille Theme Park,
plus much more. This website is downright huge!

To find what you are curious about - simply use the assorted Navigation Buttons to find what you are looking for.
For more exact & specific searching, use the
Search Box & Site Map features at the bottom of each page.

PLUS! New photos can be seen on current 2009 Fremont Street, the new Neon Museum, the new East Fremont District,
Strip architecture & nightspots, local life, city services, 150 restaurants menus and fast food hours & locations in West Vegas.

Enjoy your trip thru 'In Old Las Vegas'. This website in constantly updated, so please come back often.

Circa 1909 View of Fremont Street and Downtown Las Vegas.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Circa 1915 view showing the intersection of Fremont Street and Second Street, looking westward towards the Spanish
Mission styled train depot at the end of the street at Main. The post office is seen at left along with the Majestic Theater.
The Golden Nugget would open on the site of the post office in 1946. The right corner shows the vacant lot that would
later be the site of the 1932 Apache Hotel. Thru the years the Apache's ground floor would be used for casino spaces.

Circa 1909 Parade in Las Vegas.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Downtown Las Vegas from Fremont and Second Street. The Golden Nugget would open (on the left corner) in 1946.
After the 1912 French invention of neon light, its first use in the USA was at a Packard car dealership in L.A.
The first Las Vegas installation of neon signage was in 1927 at the Oasis Restaurant (left).

Mid-1930s View Downtown Las Vegas from Fremont and Second Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

1934 view of the same corner of Fremont and Second Streets. Although Las Vegas gambling became legalized
in 1931, the casinos at this time were very small and set up as store-front parlors. The Apache Hotel (right)
opened a small gaming parlor on the left side of its ground-floor (in 1934), next to the Boulder Club. The former
post office (left) was converted into a small hotel and bar. In 1946 the Golden Nugget Casino would open on this
left corner of Fremont Street and the corner would later become the center of what would be known as Glitter Gulch.

During the 1930s the few gaming parlors, on Fremont Street, were the (1931) Northern Club (back-left, but unseen in
this photo) and the small (1931) Las Vegas Club (located next door to The Northern) and the small (1938-45) Bank
Club. The (1930-34) Club 21 was at the end of the block (far-right, unseen). The (1929) Boulder Club (right)
also offered a small gaming parlor next door to the Apache Hotel's small Apache Casino (right).

The first complete hotel-casino complex, in Las Vegas, was the Meadows Hotel which opened at the far-east end of
Fremont Street (close to Boulder Highway). Although The Meadows only existed from 1932-35, it would set the
prototype design that all the future Strip hotels would expand upon by combining hotel rooms with a full casino,
restaurants and showrooms all in one location. But, during the 1930s and 40s, it was this central section of Downtown
Las Vegas where gaming was housed and would expand in the small, store-front gaming parlors from Second to Main.

From the Mid-Thirties thru the Mid-Forties - these two blocks, from Second Street to Main, would start adding the single
most notable design element that Las Vegas would thereafter be noted for - neon signs. Following the example of New
York City's Great White Way's neon lit theaters, Las Vegas would take advantage of the cheap electricity generated at
nearby Hoover Dam (1935) and turn this small stretch of buildings into the most highly concentrated light-show in the West.

Photo of the Apache Casino in 1930s Las Vegas.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Night View of Downtown Las Vegas - Circa 1938.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

The neon of Fremont and Second Street (circa 1938) showing the original (1904-1939) train depot at the street's end.

1945 View of Downtown Las Vegas' Fremont Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

This 1944 photo of the same location of Fremont and Second shows the advances made over the previous ten years.
The Frontier Club (not to be confused with the Strip's later 1942 Frontier Hotel) is seen on the left (having opened
in 1935). The 1942 Pioneer Club is seen further west (on left). The small (1931) Las Vegas Club was a few spaces
further west from the Pioneer, alongside the 1931 Nothern Club. In 1945, the Northen would become the Monte Carlo.

The new (1940) Union Pacific train depot is seen (center-back) at the end of Fremont, replacing the old depot.

The (1929) Boulder Club is seen (on right). Within two years the Boulder Club would install a more modern neon sign in
order to keep up with the moderization of Fremont Street brought about with the opening of the Golden Nugget. The other
changes thru these years, were that the former Apache Casino was replaced by the Western Club (1941) and later by the
Forester Jewelry Store (above on right). The short-lived Western Club is seen below, just right of the Boulder Club.

Forties View of Downtown Las Vegas' Boulder Club.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

A few years later, the Apache Cafe would be converted into the (1945-46) S.S. Rex Casino (opened by the former
Meadows Casino's owner, Tony Cornero). The short-lived S.S. Rex Casino is seen below, a year before it became Eldorado.

The S.S. Rex Casino in the Apache Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas 1946.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

It would take until after the end of World War Two and the start of the post-war era before the largest
transformation of Fremont Street, into Glitter Gulch, would begin to take place.

Another important change in the Downtown area, was the opening of the (1941) El Cortez Hotel-Casino. The El Cortez
opened at the eastern end of Fremont Street, at Sixth Street. At the time, it was the major downtown hotel-casino...and
much like the earlier Meadows Hotel offered rooms, a casino, fine dining, a lounge and a large showroom. Yet, it was
the central downtown area (from Second to Main) that would house the casinos that became known as Glitter Gilch.

During this early 1940s era, changes were also taking place along the Los Angeles Highway that led into Downtown
Las Vegas (later known as The Strip). The El Rancho was built just outside the city limits in 1941, near San Francisco
Street (later becoming named Sahara Avenue). A little further south of the El Rancho, the largest hotel-complex of
the time was opened (in 1942) with the name The Last Frontier. From 1945-1966, simultaneous developments
would be happening along both Glitter Gulch and The Strip. These changes are documented further below and in
webpages further inside this InOldLasVegas.com website.

Daytime 1948 Color Photo of Downtown Las Vegas' Fremont Street and Casinos.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

This 1948 photo shows the same corner of Las Vegas' Downtown Fremont Street at its intersection with Second Street.
The newly opened 1946 Golden Nugget is seen at left. Known as the 'Million Dollar Casino' it soon became
the most well-known downtown casino, mainly due to its huge roof-top, neon sign.

With the opening of the 1946 Golden Nugget, a simultaneous grand-opening took place on The Strip with the new
Beverly Hills styled (1946) Flamingo Hotel at the far-south end. In 1948, the Thunderbird Hotel-Casino also opened
along The Strip, mid-way between the El Rancho and Last Frontier on the east side of the highway.

Downtown continued with its Old West styled gambling halls with the conversion of the Apache Hotel's S.S. Rex Club
into the 1947 El Dorado Club (seen at right) . The Pioneer Club's first Vegas Vic sign is seen (on right) pointing
to the club across the street. In 1951, the full-sized Vegas Vic Cowboy would be placed right over the Pioneer Club's
entrance. The newer, Stream-Line Moderne (1940) Union Pacific train station depot, is seen at the end of the street
(middle-back). The well-known, 120 foot tall Las Vegas Club's neon sign would be erected in 1949. The 1932 Apache
Hotel is seen (at right) above the (1947-51) El Dorado Club (later to become the Horseshoe & Binion's).

During the 1940s, other changes on Fremont Street came when the (1941-45) Slot Machine Club was replaced by
the (1946-70) California Club and the opening of the (1943-52) Santa Anita Turf Bar. In 1946, the (1941-45) Jackpot
Club was replaced by Club Savoy (next door to the Boulder Club). In 1946 the Boulder Club replaced its dated sign with
the new one (seen on right) to keep pace with the changes brought about with the opening of the Golden Nugget.

Downtown Las Vegas Color Kodachrome Photo of 1952 Fremont Street.
Photo Courtesy of Gary B. Edstrom. Photo by Edward N. Edstrom.

1952 photo of Downtown Las Vegas' Fremont Street. Compare this image to the 1960 photo shown below. In this photo
the (1949) Las Vegas Club's sign (the tallest sign in Glitter Gulch) is seen (back-left) after the club moved to the north side
of the street. The old (1935-53) Frontier Club and (1953-1955) Fortune Club are seen (left). The Golden Nugget is
seen with its early facade. The (1957-1989) Mint Casino (later built next to the Boulder Club) was not then in existence.
The Monte Carlo Club (formerly the 1931-43 Northern & 1943-45 Turf Club) is seen behind the (1942) Pioneer Club.

Other 1950s Downtown changes were:

  • * 1950: The Westerner Club opened.(South-side, left).
  • * 1951: The Pioneer Club installed its Vegas Vic neon-cowboy sign.(South-side, left).
  • * 1951: The (1947-50) El Dorado converted into Binion's & Brown's Horseshoe.(North-right).
  • * 1952: The 1925 White Spot Cafe closed to make way for casino space.(North-right).
  • * 1953: The 1920s Oasis Cafe closed and became used for Golden Nugget space.(South-left).
  • * 1954: The 1935-53 Frontier Club was replaced by the Lucky Strike Casino.(South-left).
  • * 1955: The 1931-55 Sal Sagev Hotel became the Golden Gate Hotel-Casino.(South-left).
  • * 1955: The Golden Slot Club opened next to Las Vegas Club and lasted until 1957.(North-right).
  • * 1955: The 1953-55 Keyhole Bar became the Lucky 13 Club (lasting until 1957).(South-left).
  • * 1956: The Birdcage Casino opened on NE corner of First & Fremont.(North-right).
  • * 1956: The Little Casino opened on First Street, north of the Birdcage Casino.(North-right).
  • * 1956: The Fremont (Downtown's skyrise hotel) replaced (1942-55) Double Zero Club at NE Second.
  • * 1957: The 1952-55 Fortune Club became the Zodiac Club (lasting until 1959).(South-left).
  • * 1957: The 1906-56 LV Pharmacy (NW First & Fremont) converted into Silver Palace.(North-right).
  • * 1957: The Mint Casino opened, replacing Club Savoy. It would expand the next year.(North-right).
  • * 1958: The Birdcage Casino was demolished to make way for Mint's corner expansion. (North-right).

Nightime View of 1960 Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. Photo by Walter Reed.
Photo Donated to InOldLasVegas.com by Walter Reed. Walter Reed Copyright © 2009.

This 1960 photo of Downtown Las Vegas' Fremont Street shows the Lucky Strike & Bingo signs replacing the previous
Frontier & Fortune Club. The (1946-present) Golden Nugget's 1957 marquee-type sign is also seen (left) along with
the new (1957-1989) Mint Casino (right). The Lucky Strike sign was installed around 1954. The Nugget Saloon
changed its sign to read Golden Nugget Saloon, placed a neon-gold nugget on top and placed the sign diagonally.

Tourists in 1954 Las Vegas Standing in Front of the Golden Nugget Across from the Boulder Club. Early Color Kodachrome.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her 20th Century Nostalgia Collection. Photo Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

Tourists in 1954 Downtown Las Vegas, standing in front of the Golden Nugget, across from the (1929-1960) Boulder Club.

Downtown Vegas 1954 Tourist Standing in Front of the Las Vegas Club with Vegas Vic in Background.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her Beard Family Photos Collection. Photo Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

Tourist, Elton Beard, standing in front of the Las Vegas Club with the Monte Carlo Club and the (1951) Vegas Vic sign in
the background. The Monte Carlo was the former site of the (1931-1943) Northern Club (the first Las Vegas establishment
to receive a gaming license in 1931 when gaming became legalized in Nevada).

From 1943-1945, the Northern Club site became the Turf Club. In 1945 the Turf Club became the Monte Carlo
(owned by Wilbur Clark, who would open the Strip's Desert Inn in 1950). The Monte Carlo remained in existence
until 1966). Soon after, the Monte Carlo became the Coin Castle and is currently the site of La Bayou.

The (1931-1955) Sal Sagev Hotel is seen (on right) a year before it changed ownership and became the (1955-present)
Golden Gate Hotel-Casino. The building was one of the first hotels built when Las Vegas was founded in 1905 and operated
as the Nevada Hotel from 1905-1931. It remains one of the oldest buildings in all of Las Vegas.

Around 1970 (when much downtown remodeling was happening to keep pace with the opening of the new 1971 Union Plaza
Hotel) the Golden Gate's entire structure was covered with a modernized metal facade. Around 1995 (with the installation
of the Fremont Street Experience) the facade was removed and the hotel has since been restored to its original design.

1960 Photo of Downtown Vegas Showing Golden Nugget, Mint, Boulder Club and Fremont Street Casinos.
Photo Donated to InOldLasVegas.com by Walter Reed. Walter Reed Copyright © 2009.

This 1960 photo shows the heart of Glitter Gulch. The Old West theme can be seen in the various casino names and signs. The
Golden Nugget Gambling Hall is seen on left, followed Golden Nugget Saloon. The Lucky Strike Bingo Hall is seen next along
with its statue of a miner sifting his mining-pan for gold. Next was the Nevada Club. The Pioneer's Vegas Vic neon sign is seen
further down. On the right is the neon Horseshoe sign, followed by the Boulder Club, The Mint and The Las Vegas Club.

1960 View of the 1954 Lucky Strike Bingo Hall in Downtown Vegas.
Photo Donated to InOldLasVegas.com by Walter Reed. Walter Reed Copyright © 2009. Enhancement by Camden Communications.

1960 photo showing neon entrance to the (1954) Lucky Strike Bingo Hall. The Air Curtain was a blast of cool air-conditioning.
The Golden Nugget is on the left and the Nevada Club

Fremont Street and Second Street in 1951 Las Vegas.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Downtown Fremont Street & Second in 1951.

1961 View of Downtown Las Vegas, Fremont Street, the Golden Nugget and Binion's Horseshoe.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Major re-modeling took place during the period from 1951-1961. During that time, the Golden Nugget added
its marquee stled facade and 'bull-nose' entrance. The Lucky Strike became the Lucky Casino and added it's
towering pylon. The Horseshoe extended onto the former Boulder Club's space and added a completely new
facade of sheet-metal & neon and The Mint Casino took the place of the former Club Savoy and Birdcage.

1959 Downtown Las Vegas Looking West.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Downtown Las Vegas in 1959, looking west.

Night View of Downtown Vegas in 1962.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Night view of the 1962 neon lights of Downtown Las Vegas, seen from Second Street looking west.

Tourists on Fremont Street Circa 1959.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

1959 Las Vegas tourists on Fremont Street.

1954 Tourists at the Union Pacific Train Depot in Downtown Las Vegas.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her Beard Family Photos Collection. Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

1954 Las Vegas tourists at the Union Pacific Train Depot.

1954 View of the Union Pacific Train Depot in Downtown Las Vegas.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her Beard Family Photos Collection. Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

1954 view of the 1940 Union Pacific train depot, which replaced the earlier 1905 Spanish Mission styled depot.

1957 Front View of the 'City of Las Vegas' Aerotrain.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her Beard Family Photos Collection. Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

1957 front-view of the 'City of Las Vegas' Aerotrain at the city's Union Pacific train depot.

1957 Side View of the 'City of Las Vegas' Locomotive.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her Beard Family Photos Collection. Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

Train service to Las Vegas first began in 1905 with the Salt Lake City to Los Angeles train service and was
the main form of transportation into the city during the 1930s & 1940s. In 1956, the Union Pacific began using
General Motors' experimental 'Aerotrain' locomotive for passenger service from LA. The train ran under the name
'City of Las Vegas' until the early 1960s when the name was changed to the 'Las Vegas Holiday Special'. Service
was discontinued in 1967. Amtrack took over rail service into Las Vegas with its 'Desert Wind' run until 1997.

1959 View of the Las Vegas, Art-Deco, Downtown Train Depot.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

The front of downtown's Union Pacific Train Depot in 1959. Later the site of the (1971-present) Union Plaza Hotel.

1957 Air Plane Landing in Las Vegas.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her Beard Family Photos Collection. Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

Plane arriving in 1957 Las Vegas, at Mc Carran Airport.

1957 Western Airlines Passenger Plane Arriving at Mc Carran Airport in Las Vegas.
Photo Donated to InOldLasvegas.com by Vieilles Annonces from her Beard Family Photos Collection. Copyright © 2009 by Vieilles Annonces.

1957 tourists and businessmen arriving at the Mc Carran Airport. Following World War Two, and especially
during the Fifties, air-travel started becoming the top form of transport into Las Vegas. It was during this
period that hotels, such as the Hacienda, began offering hotel guests low-priced and free flights as part of
their hotel room packages. Kirk Kerkorian was one of the first pilots to fly these junkets into Las Vegas.


MORE DOWNTOWN HISTORY

Casino Center & The Apache Hotel

Downtown Las Vegas at Second and Fremont Streets in 1949.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Downtown Las Vegas 1949.

1950 View of Downtown Las Vegas Showing Fremont Street Before the Four Queens Casino Was Erected.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

1950 view of Fremont Street (looking westward) was taken mid-way between Third and Second Street. The Eldorado Club
is seen just before its transition into The Horseshoe. In 1956, The Fremont Hotel (Downtown's first high-rise hotel) would be
built in the area that was the location of the corner gas station, Wimpy's Hamburger Stand and Ruby's Flower Shop (right).
In 1964, the site of the Grand Hotel and Payless Drugstore (left) would become the 4 Queens Casino-Hotel.

Color Postcard of 1950s Fremont and Second Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Circa 1952 view of the same location as seen above shows Bentley's Gift shop and the gas station site having become a vacant lot.

EArly Fifteis View of the Horseshoe Casino Downtown.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

In 1951, Binions' ran his Horseshoe Casino on the full ground floor of the Apache Hotel.

Circa Early Fifties View of the Apache Hotel and the Horseshoe Casino.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Circa 1952 view of The Horseshoe and Apache Hotel. Notice the Apache Hotel's new, side entrance neon sign.

Sign Above the Horseshoe Casino in the Early 1950s.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Early Fifties sign over The Horseshoe with chips, roulette wheel, dice cubes, a Royal Flush hand & a horse's head inside a horseshoe.

.
Photo Donated to InOldLasVegas.com by Vieilles Annonces. Copyright © 2009. Graphic Restoration by Camden Communications

1954 daytime view of The Horseshoe and Apache Hotel.

1957 View of J.W. Brown's Horseshoe Casino.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

1957 view of The Horseshoe. During this time the casino was run by J.W. Brown and his name can be seen added above the Horseshoe
logo. The new, 1957 Mint Casino's first club is seen next-door just before its expansion to the corner of First Street.


The Pioneer Club

Circa 1910-1915 View of Old Downtown Vegas Street Race and Early sites of the Soon to Come First Gambling Casinos in Las Vegas.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

This circa 1910 photo shows Fremont Street, looking eastward. The area on the right would become the future sites
of the Northern Club and other early clubs of the 1930s and 40s. Beckley's Men's Wear can be seen (at mid-right).
In 1942, the Beckley store was turned into the Pioneer Club. The site of the (1946) Golden Nugget is also labeled.

The first block (on right) would, thru the following four decades, be home for many famous old downtown casinos
such as the Northern Club, the Bank Club, the first Las Vegas Club, Monte Carlo, Turf Club, Buckley's Bar,
The Pioneer, The Westerner, Club Bingo and the Coin Castle.

The second block would be the later sites for numerous downtown casinos - including the Frontier Club, the Fortune
Club, Nevada Club, Santa Anita Turf Bar, Buckley's Jackpot, the California Club, the Golden Nugget, the Lucky Strike,
the Lucky Casino, the Zodiac Club, and Diamond Jim's. The Oasis Cafe and White Spot Cafe would also be located there.

1930s View of Downtown's Northern Club and Las Vegas Hotel and Cafe.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

During the 1930s, the southside of the first block of Fremont Street is where the earliest Las Vegas casinos
got their start following the 1931 legalization of gambling in Las Vegas. The building (with the Pioneer label)
and Florsheim Shoe sign - is at the SW corner of Fremont & First. In 1942 The Pioneer Club would open there.

1940s Color View of the Area of the Northern Club and Original Las Vegas Club.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Early 1940s view of Fremont Street looking eastward shows the new neon signage over the
Northern Club. During this time the former Billiard Hall became the Las Vegas Bar with
a neon Indian over its door. The Las Vegas Hotel & Cafe became the (first) Las Vegas Club.
The 1942 Pioneer's neon wasset in place and the Frontier Club's neon is seen further down the street.

1945 View of the Monte Carlo Club in Downtown Vegas.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

In 1943, The Northern Club became the short lived Turf Club. In 1945, The Turf Club became the Monte Carlo
(which remained in existence until 1966). The Monte Carlo later became the 1970 Coin Castle and is now La Bayou.

1945 Color Night View of Downtown Las Vegas Neon as Seen From Main Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

1945 night-time view of the same location as above. During the early Forties, this first block of Fremont Street (between Main
and First Street) was, perhaps, the most active casino section, with the Frontier & Boulder Clubs further down, mid-way between
First and Second. The following year, The Golden Nugget would open on the corner of Second and Fremont, along with the 1946
S. S. Rex Club's opening in the ground-floor space of The Apache Hotel.

1940s View of the Las Vegas Pioneer Club.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

The Pioneer Club opened in 1942, the same year as the Last Frontier Hotel opened out on the early Las Vegas Strip.
Both casinos would use an Old West theme harkening back to the mining days of early Nevada. The Pioneer was the
first, large downtown casino to use the Wild West theme and thru the 40s and 50s most other downtown clubs would
uphold this trend in a combined effort to promote the Glittler Gulch section of Fremont Street.

This building, on the southwest corner of First and Fremont Streets, was the former site of Beckley's Mens Wear.
In 1942 it was converted into a casino and became the Pioneer Club. During the early 1940s it was the largest, most
well-known casino in downtown Las Vegas. Its 1940s phase of neon showed covered wagons, miners and cactus.
During the Fifties, the Pioneer would undergo extensive remodeling and replace the old neon with a new facade.

The 1951 Installation of the Pioneer Club's Vegas Vic Neon Cowboy Sign.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

In 1951 the Pioneer Club did away with its cactus and covered-wagon neon signs and replaced them with this
well-known and long-lived, Las Vegas icon-landmark. In its early days the cowboy's glowing cigarette would
emit a puff of smoke, the arm would swing and a loudspeaker would boom out the famous words: "Howdy Podner".

1960 View of the Pioneer Club in Downtown Las Vegas.
Photo Donated to InOldLasVegas.com by Walter Reed. Walter Reed Copyright © 2009. Enhancement by Camden Communications.

This 1960 photo shows the neon cowboy, named Vegas Vic, that was installed at the entrance of the Pioneer Club
in 1951. The Westerner (opened by Benny Binion) is seen just west of the Pioneer Club shortly after its 1950 opening
on the former site of the original (southside of Fremont) Las Vegas Club. In 1962 the Westerner became Club Bingo.

1977 Kodachrome Photo of Pioneer Club's Vegas Vic.
Photo Copyright © 1977-2009 By Erik Wunstell

1977 photo of Vegas Vic shows the Golden Nugget's expansion to First Street and its second bull-nose styled entrance.

Looking Eastward Down Fremont

Mid-1940s Photo of Fremont Street from Near Main Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Mid-Forties view of the southside of Fremont, between Main and First Street. Compare this scene to the photo below.

Post 1964 Photo of Club Bingo and Downtown Las Vegas, showing the Golden Nugget and the new 4 Queens' Hotel Tower.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

In 1962, Club Bingo replaced the former Westerner Club, which had operated at that location since 1950. The block-long
expansion of The Golden Nugget is seen, along with the new, 1964 4 Queens Hotel-Casino.

The South-West corner of Fremont & First thru the Years

Beckley's Bar at the Corner of Fremont & First in Downtown Las Vegas.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

During the late Thirties Beckley's Menswear Store opened a bar at the SW corner of Fremont and First.
In 1942, the building was converted into the first, western-themed casino in Downtown Las Vegas.

1940s View of the Pioneer Club's Side Entrance.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Late 1940s side-view of the Pioneer Club as seen from First Street Street. During this time, the first
Vegas Vic neon cowboy sign sat on the roof (across the street) at the NW corner of First & Fremont.

1961 Pioneer Club's New Aluminum Facade.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Circa 1961 view shows the remodeling of the Pioneer Club and its new aluminum-screened covered facade. During this
time, the building, that was formerly the Las Vegas Hotel and Westerner Club, was demolished (the vacant space is visible).
A new building was erected there and would become the site of Club Bingo, which remained at that site until 1983.

2009 Photo Showing the Current Pioneer Club's Space Being Used as a Gift Store.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

2009 photo of the current location of the former Pioneer Casino now being used as a gift store. When the Fremont Street
Experience's canopy was being installed (in 1994) the hat on Vegas Vic had to be reduced in size and the movable arm was
stopped from functioning. This section of First Street is now a narrow, a dead-end alleyway due to the new construction of
a condo tower (seen rising at left). Yet, the Pioneer building is still in place 67 years after its 1942 opening. The Vegas Vic
neon cowboy sign celebrates its 58th birthday this year and remains as one of Las Vegas' most memorable landmark.

1948 View of Downtown Las Vegas Looking Westward on Fremont Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Circa 1948 westward view of Fremont Street (looking toward the train depot) shows the intersection of Fremont and First, with the
Pioneer Club on the left corner. The Bank of Nevada (seen on right) would later become the site of the Birdcage Casino and later
the Mint Casino's 1958 corner addition. The Pioneer Club's first use of Vegas Vic is seen is the, giant-sized, steel frame sign,
placed across the street and pointing to the casino. This steel frame signage was the first of its type ever used in the Glitter
Gulch area. In 1950, The Golden Nugget would also use this type of steel frame sign above its casino. The original Las
Vegas Club can be seen (left) just before its 1949 move across the street and before it added its 120 foot tall neon sign.

Post 1951 View of the New Vegas Vic Sign at the Pioneer Club.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

This view shows the addition of the full-length 1951 Vegas Vic cowboy that was installed over the Pioneer Club. These dual
Vegas Vic signs made the corner of Fremont and First an important part of the downtown skyline. The second Las Vegas Club
(and 120 foot sign - then the tallest on Fremont Street) can be seen after its move across the street to the ground floor of the
Overland Hotel. Its House of Jackpots sign showed a slot machine releasing a jackpot of neon-lit coins.

Circa 1952 View of Downtown Las Vegas at the Intersection of Fremont and First.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Early Fifties view of Fremont Street at First (looking west towards the train depot).

Before & After - View from First Street at Fremont

View of the 1965 Mint Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas, Showing the Pioneer Club and Golden Nugget Casino.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

This view, looking north from First Street towards Fremont Street shows the 1965 Mint Tower, with the Golden Nugget seen on the right
(after its expansion all the way from Second to First Street over the former sites of the Lucky Strike, Nevada & California Clubs).
The Pioneer Club's First Street neon signage is seen on the left. Compare this photo to the photo directly below.

.2009 View of First Street Near Fremont in Downtown Las vegas, Showing the Pioneer and Golden Nugget.
Photo Copyright © 2009 By Erik Wunstell

This 2009 view shows the same location of First Street looking north towards Fremont Street. The 1995 metal canopy (called
the Fremont Street Experience) now blocks the view of the former Mint Tower. The entire Mint property was bought out by Binion's
Horseshoe, which expanded the length of the full block from Second Street to First (like the Golden Nugget). This once busy and
grand First Street entrance to Downtown has since become a dead-end street. The Golden Nugget has since expanded over the area
that was the right lane of First Street. The same signage is still in place and the Pioneer Club remains, although it is now a gift store.

Circa 1957 Fremont Street Looking East

1957 Color View of Downtown Las Vegas Looking East Down Fremont Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Eastward view (circa 1957) of Fremont Street as seen from Main Street. The Overland Hotel and its neon rail-train
is seen at left, along with the noeon sign for Biff's Famous Foods and the Las Vegas Club. The Silver Palace,
the original Mint and the 1956 Fremont Hotel are seen further down (left) during the era before the
1961 remodeling of Binions Horseshoe and the addition of the Lucky Casino's tower.


A Short History of Downtown's Mint Casino

A sample of what lies inside this website!

1957 View of the Downtown Las Vegas' New Mint Casino.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

The first Mint Casino (opened 1957). In 1958 the Mint bought out the Birdcage Casino to extend the Mint to the corner.

Mint Casino Project for Their Corner Addition'.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

The Mint, as seen in 1957, shows the Birdcage Casino after its removal and the vacant space for Mint's part two.


After & Before Photo Grouping

1977 View of the 1958 Mint Addition.
Photography by Erik Wunstell Copyright © 1977-2009

1977 view shows the (1958) Mint Casino's corner addition - a Las Vegas landmark until its 1989 demolition.
This eastward view, of Fremont Street, shows the Golden Nugget's extension all the way to First Street,
replacing the former sites of the Frontier Club, Fortune Club, Lucky Strike, Nevada Club & California Club.

Before View of Photo Above
Same View in 1951 of Fremont Looking Eastward from First Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

BEFORE VIEW: 1951 view of the same location, looking eastward down Fremont Street from First Street. The Nevada Bank (left)
formerly occupied the site of the (1956-1958) Birdcage Casino and various stores before the (1958) Mint addition.


Before & After Photo Grouping

Before View of the North-East Corner of Fremont and First Street. Las Vegas, Circa 1915 First State Bank.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

BEFORE VIEW: Circa 1915 view of the north-east corner of Fremont and First Street showing the First State Bank,
which would later become the Bank of Nevada, the Birdcage Casino & then the Mint's corner casino expansion.

View of the 1956 Birdcage Casino on Fremont and First Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

AFTER VIEW: 1957 view of the Birdcage Casino just before its demolition to make way for the Mint's expansion.

View of the 1958 Mint Casino's Corner Addition on Fremont and First Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

AFTER VIEW: 1958 view of the Mint Casino's expansion at the corner of Fremont & First.
The Mint would build a high-rise hotel room-tower in 1971. In 1989, Binion's bought out the entire Mint property.


Before & After Photo Grouping
Circa 1920 View Eastward on Fremont Street from First Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

BEFORE VIEW: Circa 1920 view looking eastward on Fremont Street from First Street.
A 1951 eastward view of this location is shown three photos above. Photos below show this location after the Mint opened.

1961 View of Downtown Las Vegas from Fremont and First Street, Looking Eastward.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

AFTER VIEW: 1961 view of the same location as above. The (1946-70) California Club is seen on the right.
In 1961, when Binion's remodeled its entire front, the Lucky Strike replaced its earlier 1955 miner's sign and erected
the tallest sign on Fremont Street. In comparison to Binion's more futuristic facade, the Lucky Strike's tower
looked immediately dated with a design reminiscent of a design from the (1953) 'War of the Worlds' movie.
By 1970 the sign would be removed. Golden Nugget later expanded from Second Street all the way to First Street.

The (1958 & 1957) Mint signs are seen on the left, with Binion's new, blue sign and golden horseshoes just beyond.

Early 1970s View of Downtown Las Vegas from the First And Fremont Intersection, Showing Mint & Golden Nugget.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

AFTER VIEW: Early 1970s view of same location as the two photos above (Fremont, looking east from First Street).
The Golden Nugget (right) is seen having taken over the entire south block from Second Street to First Street,
replacing the former sites of the Lucky Strike, Nevada Club and California Club. The bulbous-styled entrances
were placed on both of Golden Nugget's corners. The (1966) 4 Queens Hotel is seen in the background (right).


1964 Aerial View of Downtown Las Vegas Showing the Golden Nugget, Binions Horseshoe, The Carousel & Construction of the 4 Queens Hotel.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Circa 1965 aerial view shows the start of construction on the 4 Queens Hotel-Casino (mid-bottom). The 1961
remodeling of Binion's Horseshoe can be seen diagonally across the street. The dual swooping, curved
entrance of the Mint are seen next to Bionion's with the 1965 Mint Tower Hotel in back. The mid-left
edge of this photo shows the 1964 conversion of the Silver Palace into the Carousel Casino.

Downtown Clubs & Casinos Timeline

Las Vegas Chronology. Opening date of Downtown clubs having slot machines or gaming tables.

1929 Boulder Club

1930 21 Club
1931 Sal Sagev Hotel
1931 Las Vegas Club
1932 Apache Hotel
1932 Kiva Club
1934 Barrel House
1934 Apache Casino
1935 Frontier Club
1938 Bank Club
1939 Mission Club

1940 Kiva Bar 2
1941 Slot Machine
1941 Western Club
1941 Jackpot Club
1942 Pioneer Club
1942 Double 0 Club
1943 Turf Club
1943 Santa Anita
1945 Club Savoy
1945 Monte Carlo
1945 S.S. Rex
1946 Golden Nugget
1947 Eldorado

1950 Westerner
1951 Binion's Horseshoe
1952 Fortune Club
1954 Lucky Strike
1954 Brown's Horseshoe
1955 Golden Gate Casino
1955 Lucky 13 Club
1955 Golden Slot Club
1956 Fremont Casino
1956 Birdcage Casino
1957 Zodiac Club
1957 Silver Palace
1957 Mint Casino
1958 Mint Casino 2

1960 Nevada Club

1961 Las Vegas Club 2
1962 Diamond Jim's
1962 Club Bingo
1963 Lucky Casino
1964 Carousel Casino
1966 Four Queens

1970 Coin Castle
1975 Golden Goose
1976 Sundance Casino

1980 Sassy Sally's

Downtown Las vegas Casinos in 1957.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Circa 1957 view of Fremont looking westward and the intersection of Fremont and Second Street.

1972 Eastward Photo Looking East Down Las Vegas' Fremont Street.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Early 1970s view looking eastward down Fremont Street from the location of the newly opened Union Plaza Hotel.
On left, the new neon signage can be seen along the roofline of the Overland Hotel. The Dugout Restaurant's
neon sign replaced the former sign for Biff's Famous Food. The building of the new Plaza caused slight remodelings
in the surrounding casinos as can be seen by The Golden Gate's metal covering of its former brick and stucco facade.

During the 1990s, the Golden Gate Hotel removed its 1970s metal facelift and the hotel has since been converted
back to its original design. The Coin Castle is seen after its 1970 opening, at the former location of the Northern,
Turf and Monte Carlo Club. The Coin Castle stayed in place for 30 years and its now the location of La Bayou Club.

This four-block are of Fremont Street (from Main Street to Third) is now covered by the 1995 Fremont Experience
metal-canopy and light show. A current view of this location can be seen today from the Plaza Dome Lounge.

1960s Color Photo of the Golden Nugget Casino's Block Long Neon Signage.
InOldLasVegas Collection. Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications

Late 1960s view of the Golden Nugget shows that its 1957 Victorian-stled neon facade would eventually extend
all the way to First Street. By the early Seventies, The Golden Nugget bought out the entire (south) block of
casino space from Second to First, taking over the former locations of the smaller clubs that once occupied
this historic Old Vegas block (the Frontier, Fortune, Lucky Strike, Nevada and California Clubs).



Before & After Photos


Fremont & First Street

The Silver Palace Casino at First and Fremont.
InOldLasVegas.com Collection - Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications.

BEFORE: 1958 view of the Silver Palace Casino, on the north-west corner of Fremont & First Street.

2009 View of Mermaids' Club on First and Fremont.
Photography by Erik Wunstell - Copyright © 2009

AFTER: 2009 view of Mermaids on the same north-west corner of Fremont & First Street, as seen above.


Fremont from Main Street

1940s View of Downtown Vegas' Fremont Street Looking East From Main Street.
InOldLasVegas.com Collection - Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications.

BEFORE: Late 1940s Fremont Street (from near Main Street) looking eastward - showing early view of the photo below.
The current 'La Bayou' is now located on the site of where the 'Mont Carlo' is seen above (right)

2009 View of Downtown Vegas' Fremont Street Looking East From Main Street.
Photography by Erik Wunstell - Copyright © 2009
AFTER: 2009 Fremont Street (from near Main Street) looking eastward - showing current view of photo above.

Before & After - Northern Club & La Bayou

1930 View of the Northern Hotel, Which Would become Las Vegas' First Legal Gaming Hall.
InOldLasVegas.com Collection - Graphic Restoration & Enhancement by Camden Communications.
BEFORE: 1930 view of the Northern Hotel. After gambling became legal in Nevada in 1931, the Northern opened a gambling hall.

2009 View of La Bayou, the Former Site of the First Legas Gaming Club in Las Vegas.
Photography by Erik Wunstell - Copyright © 2009
AFTER: 2009 view of La Bayou - located in the same building as the 1931 Northern Club, the 1943 Turf Club, the 1945 Monte Carlo
Club and the 1970 Coin Castle Casino. For over 75 years this site has been in, almost, continual operation as
a Fremont Street gaming hall and is one of the most important (but unrecognized) buildings in Las Vegas gaming history.


DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS - PHOTOS & POSTERS

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Page Three - Las Vegas Strip 1941-1975


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WEBSITE by WestVegas.com & InOldLasVegas.com
Website Copyright © 1999-2009 By Erik Wunstell & Camden Communications
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