Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mid-Strip - Flamingo Now and Then

Click on any photo for a larger view.

This is a view of the 1953 remodeled front of the Flamingo Hotel (originally built in 1946). During the 1950s Las Vegas patrons mainly traveled from casino to casino by car, since the distances between casinos were far apart and there were few sidewalks to walk on.

This 'Vegas Now and Then' post will try showing how the Strip has evolved and how developers now consider the needs of our pedestrian visitors and the need for designs to pull more foot traffic into the various casinos.

Sidenote: Flamingo's Champagne Tower was once the first major piece of neon signage on the Strip that greeted vehicular traffic arriving from Los Angeles. The tower was installed during the 1953 remodeling of the Flamingo. When Caesars Palace was built (in 1966) their fountains were located exactly across the street from the Champagne tower.

1946 aerial photo of the original Flamingo Hotel. The top of the photo shows the future (1966) location of Caesars Palace. The 'yellow dot' (mid-top of photo) shows the approximate camera location used for the 1953 photo (seen above).

From this photo, you can see the approximate location where the 1953 Champagne Tower was later installed next to the front driveway (purple dot) right on the Strip. The 'orange dot' shows the location of Flamingo's current circular entryway.

Through the years, the Flamingo would expand its casino all the way to the street. The photos below chronicle this expansion and show how the Flamingo has now become more accessible to pedestrian foot-traffic.

This photo shows the Flamingo's 1967 remodeling (as seen in 1969 after Hilton bought the hotel). The Flamingo's Champagne Tower was removed during Flamingo's 1967 remodeling and the hotel-casino's entry was made to be parallel to the boulevard .

The big part of the remodeling was the construction of the Flamingo's second story skyroom restaurant, which looked out onto Caesars' fountains and provided beautiful views of the desert sunsets behind the western La Madre Mountains.

This aerial photo shows the basic layout of the Flamingo (showing its original hotel and pool). Notice that additional room wings had been added to the 1946 layout. The 1967 remodeled front and its new porte cochere now lined up with the Strip and its skyroom restaurant now looked out towards Caesars.

Las Vegas re-modelings, like this one at the Flamingo, usually take place whenever a new casino opens up (like Caesars did in 1966) and neighboring hotels feel the need to spruce themselves up to keep pace with the changes.

The Flamingo did its first (1953) remodeling after the opening of its new Strip competitors - the 1950 Desert Inn Hotel and Silver Slipper casino, and the 1952 Sahara and Sands' Hotels.

During its second (1967) remodeling, the Champagne Tower was removed (its former location was near where the 'red dot' is). The 'white dot' marks the location of its current, circular entry way. The 'blue dot' represents the location of the 1977 south-side addition of the Flamingo's second porte cochere and its new neon sign, which can be seen below - on the day it was installed on April 10th, 1977.

Construction of Flamingo's south entry and neon sign installation April 10th, 1977. This south entry was originally used as a second, covered vehicular driveway (notice the porte cochere and mirrors over doorway).

The south entry of the Flamingo, 33 years later, on April 10th, 2010. The porte cochere (covered driveway) has since become a pedestrian entryway. This entry is located just 70 feet north of Bill's Gambling Hall. The conversion of the entry and the addition of a wide sidewalk and mini-plaza encourages pedestrian strolling and easy entry into the Flamingo.

This 1999 view, from the front of Caesars shows the current face of the Flamingo as it has expanded its hotel room towers and extended its casino right up to the sidewalk.

The south-side entry and neon sign can be seen at the far right of this 1999 photo.

The addition of lots of trees and plenty of pretty foliage provides much needed shade and makes the Strip seem like less of a desert than it actually is.

The Mid-Strip block of Harrahs' casinos and their consideration of foot traffic allows visitors to the Strip to comfortably walk from one casino to the next - from Planet Hollywood, past Ballys, Bills, Flamingo, O' Sheas, Imperial Palace and into Harrahs.

With the well-planned addition of over-head bridges to the Strip, foot traffic can easily make its way west to Caesars or south to Ballys, Paris (and MGM's Bellagio on the south-west corner of the Mid-Strip).

The pedestrian bridge (on left) leads to Caesars Palace's new plaza areas and sidewalk oriented restaurant. In the photos, coming later this week, you'll see how Caesars has changed through the years, with the remodeling of its original hotel, and the addition of new towers to the property.

More Mid-Strip, Now & Then Photos Coming Here This Week!