Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World, was founded by settlers in 1905, and its now one of the world’s popular cities. The City has a rich history, which this gallery intends to highlight.
The photos below show how the City began, how it developed to become what it is today and the people who are an essential part of Las Vegas’ history.
30 Historical Photos Of Las Vegas
1. The Osmond Brothers at Caesars Palace
This is an iconic photo of the Osmond Brothers (from left-right: Merrill, Alan, Donny, Wayne, and Jay) in 1971 receiving their Gold record after their live performance at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was after their song One Bad Apple became the first to sell more than 2 million copies. The brothers are receiving the award from Mike Curb, who was then the president of MGM Records.
2. People Riding a Glass Elevator at El Cortez Hotel
Glass elevators are not for everybody, especially those who are afraid of heights. In this photo, a group of people can be seen taking a ride in a glass elevator at El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas in the 1950s.
This historic hotel was founded in the 1940s. It beat most vintage Vegas resorts to be the only one that still stands today. Years later, El Cortez holds the same ranch-style experience it did seventy-nine years ago.
3. Wishing You Happy Thanksgiving – The Last Frontier Hotel (University of Southern California | Getty Images)
In this 1951 photo, Joan Manning can be seen holding a turkey at the Last Frontier Village. The Last Frontier Hotel was the second resort to be built in the Vegas Strip after Riviera.
The building that housed the hotel was opened in 1930, and it first started as a nightclub. It opened as Hotel Last Frontier in 1942 and is now known as the New Frontier Hotel.
4. Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow Tie the Knot at Sands Hotel
Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow tied the knot on 19th July 1966 at Sands Hotel Las Vegas, and they can be seen cutting their wedding cake in this lovely photo.
The Sands Hotel operated from the early ’50s up to 1996 when it was shut down and later demolished. Oh, there wouldn’t be The Venetian Hotel if the Sands Hotel and Casino would still be standing today.
5. Knock Out! Leotis Martin Brings Down Sonny Liston – International Hotel Las Vegas
On 12th June 1969, Leotis Martin, who was ranked third, fought Charles “Sonny” Liston, who was the favorite. However, things did not go according to plans as Sonny was knocked out in the ninth round, as the photo shows.
The showdown was held at International Hotel, which is now known as Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. The hotel was built back in 1967, and it was one of Elvis Presley’s favorite hangout joints.
6. The Moulin Rouge Is Born!
In this 1954 photo, Joe Louis, a former heavyweight champion, is seen signing a contract purchasing a part interest in Moulin Rouge Hotel, which was yet to be opened. The onlookers are hotel executives (left-right: Louis Rubin, George C. Altman, Will Schwartz, Aaron Bloom, and Alexander Bisno).
Racial integration was unheard of until 1955, when The Moulin Rouge made it happen. It goes down in the history of Las Vegas as the first joint to allow black and white clients and entertainers to socialize.
7. Hotel Apache
You probably can never imagine life without lifts in buildings, right? Well, this was the life of Vegans until 1932, when the Apache Hotel brought the first lift to town.
In this lovely 1953 photo, Hotel Apache can be seen from Fremont Street near the intersection of South 2nd.
8. MGM Grand Fire – The Worst Blaze in Las Vegas History
Some memories can fade with time, but not the 1980 MGM Grand fire. Faulty wiring in a deli joint within the MGM resort caused an inferno on 21st November 1980 that left eighty-five people dead.
The incident would later transform the fire safety standards for Vegans and most resorts in the country.
9. Glass Pool Inn
In June, Vegas heat would be unbearable without swimming pools. This 1955 photo shows weary vintage travelers on a unique swimming pool known as Glass Pool Inn. This pool had seven glass portholes where revelers would peer out of the windows.
Although the Inn wasn’t the Strip’s finest, the swimming pool made it famous in its own right.
10. Little White Chapel
Las Vegas is full of wedding chapels as it has some of the most lenient marriage laws in the country, making it a popular wedding destination.
This is a 1950 photo of Little White Chapel, one of the most famous chapels in Las Vegas at the time.
11. The Dunes Hotel – In Its Hey Days
This is a 1984 photo of the Dunes Hotel. It was one of the City’s retro resorts back in the days. There was no other place in town with the Sultan’s Table or the epic “Casino de Paris” show.
Although it went down on implosions on 27th October 1993, after thirty-eight years of pride, a look in the archives show one thing – it was breathtaking in its heydays!
12. Hoover Dam Under Construction – America’s Largest Reservoir
Originally known as Boulder Dam and located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, Hoover Dam is the biggest dam in the U.S. Its construction began in 1931 and ended in 1936.
Today, Hoover Dam is among the top must-go places in Las Vegas.
13. Jimmy Carter at The University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Since opening its classes in the ’50s, University of Nevada, Las Vegas rose alongside the City to become a prestigious urban research institution. Yes, Sin City also prepares excellent minds.
In the above 1976 photo, Jimmy Carter, the Democratic Party candidate in that year’s elections, is addressing people during his campaign in UNLV. He went on to win the election.
14. Hotel El Rancho Vegas
When Fremont Street was every developer’s go-to place in the ’30s, several other futurists saw the potential of developing outside town. Well, from this idea, there arose a full-scale casino resort on the now-too-famous Las Vegas Strip by the name of Hotel El Racho Vegas.
This hotel was opened in 1941, and although it didn’t stay open for more than two decades, it goes down in history as a Strip pioneer. And, everyone remembers its windmill neon sign.
15. The Neon Graveyard – What Happens When Neon Dies
This ‘graveyard’ or a museum, is the final resting place of all the neon signs and billboards that were once glittering in Las Vegas streets. This museum was opened in 1996 through a partnership between the City of Las Vegas and the Allied Arts Council of Southern Nevada.
The loss of the massive and iconic sign from The Sands Hotel and Casino after it closed in 1995 due to lack of a storage place was one of the reasons why the museum was created. You can now find all unused iconic signs that have ever graced the busy and colorful streets of Las Vegas here.
16. The Chuck Jones Experience – Circus Circus Hotel and Casino
This is a photo of Linda Jones, the daughter of animator Chuck Jones taken on 19th January 2012 at Circus Circus Hotel and Casino. She was posing with a Bugs Bunny character at the opening of The Chuck Experience at the exquisite hotel.
17. Legends! Don King Holding Hands with Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali
The History of Las Vegas cannot be complete without the greatest boxer of all time Muhammad Ali. In this 1988 photo, Don King, the legendary boxing promoter is holding hands with Iron Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali.
Don King promoted both boxing legends and even though he had some controversial, no one can take away the fact that he was a great promoter. Some of King’s best works include the “Thrilla in Manila” and “The Rumble in the Jungle” among others.
18. Las Vegas Helldorado Days Parade – 1952
Helldorado Days is an annual festival that takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clyde Zerby founded it in 1934, and it hosts a carnival, parade, and rodeo.
The day was initially created to attract more people to Las Vegas, but with time it became part of the City’s tradition. The photo above was taken in 1952, and it shows people on parade.
19. The Boulder Club – 1940s
The Boulder Club opened its doors on 27th July 1929 at 18 Fremont Street and was one of the most successful and colorful clubs in town. Things began to change when one of the founding owners (Jack Murphy) passed away in 1929. In 1956, a massive fire broke out and consumed up to the building’s second story; luckily, no one died but it caused a lot of damage.
The fire and earlier death of another partner drove the final nail in the club’s coffin; it never recovered afterward. The club was closed on 30th September 1960. The above photo was taken in the 1940s, and it shows the Boulder Club in its heydays.
20. Obama On the Road to The White House – Bonanza High School – 2008
This is a 2008 photo of the then U.S Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barrack Obama addressing people during a campaign event held at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Obama would go on to win the election to become the first Black president of the United States of America.
21. Frank Sinatra Live On Stage – 1964
Francis Albert Sinatra was one of the most popular and influential celebrities of his time. He was an actor, a producer, and a sensational singer who have sold 150 million records globally to-date. Some of his best selling songs include Strangers In The Night, Three Coins In The Fountain, My Way, and Somethin’ Stupid.
Like most celebrities, Frank Sinatra loved Las Vegas, and in the photo above, he is performing live at a Las Vegas Hotel in 1964.
Some of the materials that Frank Sinatra produced in 1955 include In The Wee Small Hours. This is his ninth studio album, and it was produced by Voyle Gilmore and released by Capitol Records in April 1955.
22. Elvis Presley Performing at the International Hotel
The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, was born in 1935 in Tupelo Mississippi and began his music career in 1954. In 1956, his first single, Heartbreak Hotel, was released and went on to become the number one hit in the U.S.
In 1958, he was drafted into the military and he re-launched his career in 1960 and in 1961, he took a break from live performances.
This photo shows Elvis performing at the International Hotel in 1969 in a show that is believed to have been instrumental in turning his career around. Elvis had made his acting debut in 1956, and his first movie was Love Me Tender.
By 1969 however, his acting career was not going so well after having a string of low-performing records and bad movies. The performance at the then-new International Hotel revived his career.
23. Welcome to Nevada – The World’s Famous Welcome Sign
There’s only one way to know if you officially have a piece of Las Vegas- this insignia! This legendary marker is the most accurate signal that you are now entering the iconic American ‘sin’ city.
This trademark that has stood tall since the ’50s is incredibly popular worldwide. Like, every adventurous person, newlyweds, and Instagram mavens dream of striking a pose under this logo.
24. The Gangster Who Had a Vision – Bugsy Siegel
Someone had to make Vegas happen, and that person was Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. He is the mind and the founder of Las Vegas. In this 1940s photo, Bugsy Siegel (center) is standing with two men.
His 1946 vision of building Flamingo Hotel and Casino made Las Vegas turn from being a sad desert hideaway to a multi-billion-dollar entertainment and gambling mecca.
25. Elvis and Priscilla Presley at McCarran International Airport
In this photo, the King and his newly wedded wife, Priscilla, are preparing to board a chartered jet at McCarran International Airport. The wedding had taken place at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.
This airport is the City’s first and main, tracing its roots to 1920 when it was Anderson Field. Even with the new airports coming up, McCarran remains the central historical venue for aviation and Las Vegas’ primary airport for guests.
26. Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight at Tyson vs. Bruno Fight– MGM Grand Garden Arena
Tupac Shakur, better known as 2pac, was one of the best rappers and is still considered the best even today.
In this 1996 photo, he is seen at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the venue of the Tyson vs. Bruno fight with Suge Knight. Tupac would later be shot as he was on his way from the fight.
27. Mike Tyson with His Tiger – Las Vegas
Mike Tyson lives in Henderson, Las Vegas, and in this 1989 photo, he was posing with his tiger during an interview at his home.
Iron Mike is one of the best heavyweight boxers of his generation, having claimed his first belt at the age of 20 years and reigning as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world from 1987 to 1990.
28. Pioneer Club
This is a 1979 photo of Pioneer Club taken from Freemont Street in Las Vegas. Pioneer Club was elegant and one of the leading casinos in Las Vegas. It was located on the corner of Fremont Street and 1st street in downtown Las Vegas.
Pioneer Club opened in 1942. The building housing the club is much older as it was constructed in 1918. The Pioneer Club stopped operating as a casino in 1995.
29. Just Married! Eddie Fisher & Elizabeth Taylor Ties the Knot
This is a photo of Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor in their car just after exchanging their vows. The wedding took place in 1959 at a Las Vegas Hotel, and it was Taylor’s fourth wedding.
Elizabeth Taylor was labeled a home-wrecker as she married the husband of her previous maid of honor, Debbie Reynolds.
30. The Beatles Performing at The Hotel Sahara
The Beatles are one of the most influential bands of all time, and in this photo, they were performing at The Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas. The event took place on 20th August 1964.
Members of this amazing English rock band included George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney.