October milestones

On Oct. 1, 2017 … #VegasStronger

On Oct. 4, 1982 … Casino exec/sports bettor supreme Frank “Lefty “Rosenthal survives a near fatal car bomb explosion. And Robert De Niro survives it for him in Casino.

On Oct. 6, 2014 … Courageous pop icon Olivia Newton-John (now battling cancer for the third time) turns the High Roller pink at the Linq to mark breast cancer awareness. The Forever Grease Gal remains The One That We Want.

On Oct. 7, 1952 … Once The Sahara hotel-casino opens its doors, Louis Prima and Keely Smith turn the lounge into their playground, Abbott and Costello make their final stage appearance, and every star in the entertainment universe shows up to twinkle and shine. A Vegas icon, the property later morphs into the SLS Las Vegas, but has now reintroduced itself to the world once again as the Sahara Las Vegas.

On Oct. 10, 1944 … Las Vegas makes a giant leap forward as a progressive city as The Huntridge Theater — the city’s first non-segregated theater — opens.

On Oct. 10, 1959 … The pastry world welcomes our own Freed’s Bakery, concocting dee-lish cakes and baked goods for residents, tourists and celebrities. This is the place to be seen … buying the crème de la crème of noshing delights.

On Oct. 10, 1963  Kiss the atomic age adios when the Limited Test Ban Treaty takes effect, eliminating aboveground testing at the Nevada Test Site. But we’ll always have Miss Atomic Bomb (a photo created by the late Don English of the Las Vegas News Bureau).

On Oct. 11, 1964 … Las Vegas Hails the Chief. Touching down in town, President Lyndon Johnson arrives for a speech at the Las Vegas Convention Center, stumping for Nevada Sen. Howard Cannon. “One time someone called me the third Senator from Nevada,” he tells Las Vegans. “I just want to say this for Nevada: Nevada knows how to vote. Nevada does vote. Nevada votes right.”

On Oct. 15, 1993 … Egypt comes to Vegas when The Luxor hotel-casino opens. Approximately 40,000 visitors stream through the 30-stories-high wonder to ogle its pyramid-style curvature and its aesthetic centerpiece: the Luxor Sky Beam — the world’s strongest beam of light — that on a clear night is visible for up to 275 miles away by aircraft at cruising altitude. All that’s missing is a continuous loop of Steve Martin singing “King Tut.” (You know: “Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia — King Tut!”)

On Oct. 15, 1998 … Whaddaya mean, the Strip has no music-synchronized dancing water fountains? Well, the opening of The Bellagio hotel-casino remedies that glaring omission as the uber-elegant resort — named for, and based on the Lake Como town in Italy — joins the Strip roster, boasting the fountains’ home: an eight-acre lake between the building and the Strip. Overall cost: a cool $1.7 billion. Yes, that’s with a “B.”

On Oct. 18, 1969 … Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to the opening of Circus Circus Las Vegas, featuring the world’s largest permanent big top, circus acts of every kind, carnival midway arcade extravaganza and the iconic Lucky the Clown sign. You’ve seen it as a Las Vegas signpost ever since, in movies from Diamonds are Forever and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, to being an oft-seen landmark/sorta-co-star in the TV series Vega$. To this day, its indoor amusement park, Adventuredome, is a family must-visit.

On Oct. 20, 2010 … We don’t do anything small. Take for example, the debut of the Mike-O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which opens to traffic as a Hoover Dam bypass — and the western hemisphere’s largest single-span concrete arch bridge. We’re big, bold Nevada. If you’re looking for something modest, look elsewhere.

On Oct. 23, 2001 … That oft-cited expression — “the end of an era” — resurfaces as The Desert Inn is imploded. Though the building crumbles, its history (including the Vegas debut of Frank Sinatra on Sept. 13, 1951) is vibrantly intact.

On Oct. 27, 1993 … This is a year good year for hotel-casino openings, as Treasure Island debuts a mere 12 days after the Luxor threw open its pyramid gates.  Remember the skull-and-crossbones sign and the “Sirens of TI” pirate battle (with nasty ol’ Blackbeard) at the hotel-fronting “Buccaneer Bay”? Ay, shiver our timbers – the good ol’ days. And once your lagoon is the site of a climactic fight scene in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous … well, you are pop-culturally immortalized.

On Oct. 30, 1942 … The Last Frontier first opens its doors. Distinctions: It hosted Elvis Presley’s first Vegas appearance, and the final bow for Diana Ross and the Supremes. Did ya know the property began as a nightclub called the Pair-O-Dice? As in heavenly – get it?

On Oct. 30, 1957 … A lasting Vegas landmark — and roaring tourism engine — begins its life when construction commences on the Las Vegas Convention Center, which would open in 1959 with a 90,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 6,300-seat arena. And a tourism legend and indispensable economic asset to Southern Nevada takes flight.

On Oct. 30, 2007 … It seemed like the Vegas legend/resident who famously sang Camelot’s “If Ever I Would Leave You” would never leave us. But entertainer Robert Goulet dies of pulmonary fibrosis at age 73, and the Strip salutes him by closing down for his funeral procession, with several properties posting his name on their marquees. Goodnight, sweet Lancelot.

On Oct. 31, 1864 … Finally, we get our membership card: Nevada is admitted as the 36th state in the expanding, big ol’ U.S. of A.  We’ve been a member in good standing ever since.

— Steve Bornfeld



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