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In 1958, the Strip’s largest resort yet, the 800-room Stardust, opened. Though it was dogged by financial problems, its far-out neon lighting made it a curiosity. Moe Dalitz, Allard Roen, and Frank Sennes imported impresario Donn Arden’s French production revue Lido de Paris; since only those with a Stardust room key were admitted to the show, it helped keep the hotel filled.

lido
Donn Arden Collection

The Lido de Paris, the first Parisian semi-nude show to play on the Strip, paved the way for a generation of feather-and-rhinestone extravaganzas. Folies Bergere, which opened soon after, and Jubilee, another Arden creation, still play to full houses today.
sands
Sands Collection
Entertainment helped to keep the casinos busy on the weekends, but to fill the hotels during the week, resorts increasingly turned to conventions in the late 1950s. This photo shows delegates to a meeting of the National Automobile Dealers held at the Sands.
sands
Sands Collection
Part of the attraction of holding a convention in Las Vegas was that one could run into anyone. In this March 1965 photo, delegates to a conference of insurance executives are entertained by former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano in the Sands' Copa Room.
photo
Sands Collection
Some came to Las Vegas for business, others for pleasure. While Nevada had long been famous for its divorces, more couples were joined in marriage than separated each year. Casinos began offering wedding specials for the public, and celebrity nuptials like Sammy and Loray Davis's 1966 marriage helped to stimulate interest in Vegas weddings.
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Billie mae Polson Collection
Downtown Las Vegas was soon left behind by the Strip's fantastic growth, but new casinos kept Fremont Street on the map. The 15-story Fremont, which opened in 1956, was a high-rise to rival any on the Strip, and it signaled that downtown would continue to grow.
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Del Webb Corporation Collection
The Fremont soon had a high-rise neighbor, when in 1964 the Mint added an even taller hotel tower. This rendering by architect Martin Stern, Jr. is remarkably similar to the finished product, which was absorbed by Binion's Horseshoe in 1988 and is still part of Binion’s today.
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Binion's Horseshoe Collection
Together, the Fremont and Mint raised the profile of downtown, though they had a tough act to follow along the Las Vegas Strip.
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Billie Mae Polson Collection
Downtown Las Vegas and the Strip remained equally appealing tourist attractions, as can be seen by this late-1950s postcard.

 

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Last modified Monday, 30-Aug-2010 13:43:16 PDT