August milestones

On Aug. 5, 1966 … Friends, Romans, Las Vegas countrymen — and visitors the world over — lend us your party-hearty attitude as Caesars Palace throws open its gates to the public. Built at a cost of $25 million ($192 million in 2018 dollars) by developer Jay Sarno, the Palace debuts with 700 rooms over 14 stories. Each guest is hailed to enter by a blond “Cleopatra” greeter, Andy Williams kicks off the entertainment, and cocktail waitresses chirp, “Welcome to Caesars Palace, I am your slave.”

On Aug. 16, 1977 … Sadly, we fly the flags at Heartbreak Hotel at half-staff because the King, Elvis Presley, dies in Memphis at age 42. What does he mean to this city? If we had a Mount Rushmore, he’d be on it, the rhinestones on his white jumpsuit eternally gleaming off the Vegas sun.

On Aug. 20, 1964 … Moptop Mania comes west when The Beatles play the Las Vegas Convention Center. Bedlam, of course, precedes their arrival, when 2,000 ecstatic teenagers surround the Sahara Hotel the day before. When the Fab Four hit the stage, 11,000 screaming fans are treated to two shows. Forty-two years later, Cirque du Soleil brings them back to town in spirit, opening “The Beatles Love” at the Mirage. Listen, do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?  We’re in love with them (and always will be).

On Aug. 25, 1964 … A rooftop fire erupts at the Sahara mere days after the historic Moptop visit, the flames igniting because of a welder installing an air conditioning unit. Or perhaps The Beatles were just that hot.

On Aug. 28, 2000 The Desert Inn, the fifth resort constructed on the Strip, closes after a 50-year run, followed by its implosion on Oct. 23, 2001. Today, the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore occupy the acreage where the D.I. once stood. Among its many highlights, the D.I is where Frank Sinatra — destined to lead the storied Rat Pack and turn Vegas into his personal playground — made his debut in this town on Sept. 13, 1951. On Aug. 28, you could even hear a faint echo … “It’s quarter to three, there’s no one in the place except you and me …”

The Eastside Cannery on Boulder Highway is seen just before opening in August 2008. CREDIT: Brian Jones/Las Vegas news Bureau

On Aug. 28, 2008 … With a price tag of $250 million, Eastside Cannery cuts the ribbon on opening day, lending a new spark to Boulder Highway as the first new casino to debut there in 14 years. Gaming in Las Vegas is east side, west side, all around this town.

On Aug. 30, 1946 … Hopping into the Way-Back Machine, we witness the grand opening of The Golden Nugget downtown. With a “Hand of Faith” gold nugget (the world’s largest) on display in the lobby, twin aquariums and a $30 million, three-level pool added over the decades, it’s endured for 72 years. You’ve seen it even if you’ve never been in it, featured in movies including the Bond epic “Diamonds are Forever” and the Elvis classic “Viva Las Vegas,” and TV shows such as “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Vega$” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Consider it one of the foundational Nuggets of Las Vegas.

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Las Vegas Newswire

Las Vegas Newswire