Category: On This Date

On This Date: April 23, 1956, Elvis Presley’s Historical first Appearance in Las Vegas.

April 23, 2017
Elvis Presley at the new frontier hotel in Las Vegas 1956

Elvis Presley at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas 1956

Elvis performs for the first time in  Las Vegas at at the New Frontier Hotel on April 23, 1956.

Elvis signed a contract on the 16th April 1956, the engagement was at the New Frontier Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada. This was Elvis first appearance in Las Vegas. His two weeks of show commenced on April 23, 1956. His hours of employment, seven days a week, fifteen shows per week for a total of 30 shows. Elvis was paid 7,500 dollars per week, $15,000 in total.

In addition to the compensation Elvis receive one complimentary small suite and one twin bedroom. He also receive extra added attraction billing in 100% size type in all advertising, publicity, programs, displays, and lights.

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On This Date: April 21, 1958, United Airlines Flight 736 Mid-Air Collision near Las Vegas

April 21, 2017
United Airlines Flight 736 DC-7

United Airlines Flight 736 DC-7Mid-Air Collision near Las Vegas,  49 Fatalities on April 21, 1958

United Airlines Flight 736 was a daily U.S. transcontinental passenger flight operated by United Airlines that crashed on April 21, 1958, following a mid-air collision. The aircraft assigned to Flight 736, a Douglas DC-7 airliner carrying 47 persons, was flying at cruise altitude above  9 miles south of Las Vegas to a stopover at Denver, Colorado, when it was struck by a United States Air Force fighter jet crewed by two pilots. The collision occurred at 8:30 a.m. in clear weather within a major commercial airway; both aircraft fell out of control from 21,000 feet and crashed into the desert southwest of Las Vegas, Nevada.

There were no survivors from either aircraft, and with 49 fatalities it remains the deadliest crash in the history of the Las Vegas Valley. Among the victims were a group of military personnel and civilian contractors involved with sensitive Department of Defense weapons systems. The loss of the group triggered new rules prohibiting similar groups engaged in critical projects from flying aboard the same aircraft.

The official investigation stated that cockpit visibility limitations played a role in the accident, but also faulted military and civilian aviation authorities for not taking measures to reduce well-known collision risks that had existed for over a year within the confines of airways, despite numerous complaints from airline crews. The loss of United Airlines Flight 736—part of a series of 1950s mid-air collisions in American skies, including the well-publicized 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision—helped usher in widespread improvements in air traffic control within the United States.

The Crash Site location is 35°59’59″N 115°12’20″W, near Southern Highlands Golf Club,near the corner of West Cactus Ave and South Decatur Blvd, currently there is a strip-mall and houses built on/near the impact site.

Source and Photo:

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On this Date: April 20, 2015 Neon Sign Designer Betty Willis Passed Away

April 20, 2017
Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas at the south end of the “Strip”

Betty Willis passed away on April 20, 2015 (age 91) in Overton, Nevada. Betty was famously known as a neon sign designer and is responsible for designing one of the most iconic signs in the world, The Welcome to Fabulous  Las Vegas Nevada sign.  Erected in 1959 by Western Neon and is currently owned by YESCO. The sign was designed by Betty Willis and was never copyrighted.


Blue Angel Motel

The Blue Angel Motel sign was also designed by Betty Willis was criticized for depicting the well endowed angel that now over looks the motel. At one time, the angel revolved and was surrounded by blue jays. The Blue Angel was inspired, fittingly enough, by the Blue Fairy in Walt Disney’s classic animated feature, “Pinocchio”.

Normandie Motel

The Normandie Motel Marquee neon sign

Another sign by Willis was the Normandie Motel Sign. The original motel was located on the east end of Fremont Street and was torn down during the first decade of 2000. The sign is now located on Las Vegas Blvd. just north of Fremont Street and is part of the public display from the Boneyard collection.

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge Neon Sign in West Las Vegas

Willis designed the French inspired sign for the Moulin Rouge Hotel.

She continued designing signs until she retired at the age of 77.

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On This Date: April 3, 1941 The First Resort on the Las Vegas Strip Opened

April 3, 2017
El Rancho Vegas

El Rancho Vegas The First Hotel on the what would become the Las Vegas Strip

El Rancho - first resort on the Las Vegas Strip

Aerial shot of the El Rancho Vegas - Notice the Union Pacific Railroad line in the background

The El Rancho Vegas was the first resort on the what would become the Las Vegas Strip and open on April 3, 1941. The hotel was located on the corner of Highway 91 and San Francisco Ave, now know as Las Vegas Blvd. and Sahara Ave..  It was the largest hotel in Las Vegas with 110 rooms in 1941. When it opened, El Rancho Vegas’s dining room was the largest in Las Vegas. The casino consisted of four table games—two blackjack tables, one roulette table, and one craps table—and seventy slot machines. The hotel gained much of its fame from the gourmet buffet that it offered.

On July 17, 1960, the hotel was destroyed by fire. In 1982, the former Thunderbird Hotel located across the street was re-branded as the El Rancho Casino, creating some confusion. In 1970, billionaire Howard Hughes purchased 60 acres of the land. In 1978, the remnants of the old resort were demolished. The Hilton Grand Vacation Club now occupies a portion of the land. but the rest of the property for over 50years still remains a dirt lot on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd, aka “The Strip” and Sahara Ave.

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On This Date: March 31, 2014 the Largest Ferris Wheel opened in Las Vegas – The High Roller

March 31, 2017

The High Roller Observation Wheel Largest in the World with a 520 Foot Diameter

High Roller is a 550-foot tall  520-foot  diameter giant Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip. It is the world’s tallest observation wheel, 9 ft  taller than the 541-foot Singapore Flyer, which held the record for the world’s tallest observation wheel from 2008 until 2014. After nearly three years of planning and construction it opened to the public on March 31, 2014.

High Roller Facts:

  • The High Roller tops out at 550 feet making it the largest observation wheel in the world.
  • In addition to its great height, the High Roller offers an immersive pre-ride experience for its passengers on their journey from ticketing through the wheel house complete with a lounge, to the wheel ride which features unparalleled views of the Las Vegas Strip.
  • The wheel structure boasts 7.2 million pounds of steel and 112 cables. Each cable measures approximately 225 feet, for a combined total of 25,256 feet.
  • The High Roller features 28 spherical cabins that hold 40 guests.
  • Each cabin weighs approximately 44,000 pounds and includes 300 square feet of glass.
  • The cabin windows are doubly curved and fabricated from four sheets of laminated glass.
  • Fabrication of the wheel began in late 2011 and took place in several locations across the globe including China, Japan, France, Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Colorado, California and Las Vegas.
  • The High Roller travels at one foot per second and take roughly 30 minutes to make one full revolution.
  • The wheel is lit with more than 2,000 LED lights.

Photo By: Wikipedia Creative Commons

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On This Date: March 21, 1961 Honest John’s Casino Opened in Downtown Las Vegas

March 21, 2017

Honest John’s in Downtown Las Vegas

March 21, 1961 Honest John’s Casino opens at 304 Ogden Street in downtown Las Vegas. This was small place was a slots only casino.

This was the Honest John’s located downtown and not the other one located on Las Vegas Blvd. and Sahara Ave. But, in 1968 it was renamed Lady Luck. In 1972, it expanded from its small beginnings to engulf the whole block as a full-fledged casino with restaurants and shops.

Currently the Downtown Grand resides at this location.

The photo above is the only photo of the downtown location we have.

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