On April 1, 1966: After previous incarnations as the Tally-Ho in 1963 and King’s Crown in 1964, the reimagined property reopens as the Aladdin hotel-casino, with comedian Jackie Mason as the premiere headliner and flower petals pouring from the ceiling onto opening night guests. This is where Elvis would wed Priscilla. Eventually, though, the Middle Eastern theme went Hollywood — as in its current version as Planet Hollywood hotel-casino.
On April 3, 1941: Travel back with us now to where it all really began, when El Rancho Vegas opens as the very first resort on what would become the Las Vegas Strip. Rat Packers, dancing fountains and Canadian acrobats were still just a gleam in our flickering neon eye.
On April 3, 1957: “I hear the Hotel Tropicana is quite comfortable.” Hey, that’s James Bond, Agent 007 — in the form of Sean Connery — talking in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, 14 years after the comfy Tropicana hotel-casino throws open its doors. Home to the iconic former showgirl (and guy) spectacular Folies Bergere (1959-2009), it remains a Vegas mainstay. You’ve seen it in pop-culture action making appearances in everything from the Elvis musical Viva Las Vegas to the TV series Vega$ and Charlie’s Angels to the film classic The Godfather.
On April 5, 1976: Eccentric Vegas visionary Howard Hughes dies at age 70. His legacy remains, as evidenced yet again by this month’s debut of the renamed, Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators baseball team, so dubbed in honor of the famed aviator himself.
On April 2, 1990: UNLV wins an NCAA title after a blowout victory over the Duke Blue Devils, 103-73. The Runnin’ Rebels enter the pantheon of the greats.
On April 9, 2019: Newly named Las Vegas Aviators (formerly the 51s) to debut at opening day of the new Las Vegas Ballpark. Another homerun for the burgeoning Las Vegas sports scene. Slideshow: Las Vegas Aviators media day
On April 10, 1942: The Pioneer Club opens at the site of a former clothing store, kicking off a reign as one of Downtown’s leading casinos until its closure in 1995, the same year the Fremont Street Experience was completed. But its official greeter — that 40-foot-high neon cowpoke known worldwide as Vegas Vic — still stands on the site, now anchored by a souvenir shop.
On April 12, 1959: A legend — and convention industry icon — is born when the Las Vegas Convention Center makes its debut, skyrocketing Las Vegas to the title it has long held as America’s No. 1 trade show destination. During its debut year, the LVCC boasted a 20,340-foot rotunda, 18 meeting rooms and 90,000 square feet of exhibit space, hosting eight conventions and 22,519 delegates. Sixty years later, the LVCC hosts more than 21,000 conventions and meetings attended by nearly 5.9 million delegates annually. The LVCC is operated by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which produces Las Vegas Newswire.
On April 15, 1979: Liberace opens the Liberace Museum. How to describe it? Outlandishly outrageous and extravagant fabulousness. Under glass.
On April 17, 1926: Western Air Express lands the first commercial flight at Rockwell Field, the first airfield to serve Las Vegas. The in-flight movie was probably a finger-puppet show.
On April 18, 2006: With a sticker price of $925 million, Red Rock casino-resort opens as the most expensive of the Station Casino properties — and that includes the world’s priciest bowling alley constructed at a cost of $31 million. Let’s put it this way: They spared no expense.
On April 20, 1955: With a 60-year run in front of it, the Riviera hotel-casino makes its debut on the Las Vegas Strip. Before it shutters in 2015, the resort becomes known as the host of three long-running Strip productions: Crazy Girls topless revue (“No ifs, Ands or Butts”!), Splash and An Evening at La Cage, as well as a headlining home for Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, George Burns, Tony Bennett and Bob Hope. The resort was purchased in 2015 for $182.5 million by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (which produces Las Vegas Newswire) for the site of the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion.
On April 20, 2010: Featuring a leisurely freefall from 855 feet up, the Stratosphere’s SkyJump debuts, provoking the same question of all those who take the thrill plunge: Whaddaya, NUTS? Answer: Yes. And isn’t it wonderful?
On April 22, 1952: Americans see the first broadcast of the detonation of a nuclear device in the Nevada desert, at Yucca Flat, carried by Los Angeles station KTLA-TV. As television entertainment, let’s just say that the show really bombed.
On April 23, 1956: Elvis Presley performs his first Vegas show at the New Frontier hotel-casino. The King’s initial impact on Las Vegas was less than royal. Wrote the Las Vegas Sun: “For the teenagers, the long, tall Memphis lad is a whiz; for the average Vegas spender or show-goer, a bore. His musical sound with a combo of three is uncouth, matching to a great extent the lyric content of his nonsensical songs.” Not to worry. The “atomic-powered singer” would soon light up Las Vegas — and the world.
On April 24, 1950: The iconic Desert Inn opens, setting a new standard for opulence on the Las Vegas Strip. Howard Hughes famously owned it. So did Moe Dalitz. Its Painted Desert Room performance space was a celebrity hub. Among its many distinctions was providing the first Vegas stage upon which Frank Sinatra performed (Sept. 13, 1951). Its famed golf course hosted the PGA Tournament of Champions for 13 years. Guests at the panoramic Sky Room sipped “Atomic Cocktails” while viewing nuclear test detonations. For 55 years, the Desert Inn reigned until …
On April 28, 2005: See where the Desert Inn used to be? That’s where Wynn Las Vegas opens, all $2.7 billion and 217 acres of it. Paired with the adjacent Encore hotel in 2008, the combined complex is the world’s seventh-largest hotel. Though the Desert Inn may be gone, where it stood is now home to a pretty impressive inn for our desert.
On April 30, 1996: Now it’s being rebranded as the STRAT, but it is unveiled as The Stratosphere hotel-casino, highlighted — and we mean HIGH-lighted — by the Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States, at 1,149 feet. That construction “feat” also marks it as the second-tallest in the Western hemisphere (behind the CN Tower in Toronto) and the tallest structure in Nevada. Guests could undoubtedly be promised some pretty high times.
— Steve Bornfeld