Las Vegas went thru six architectural eras so far. First there was pre-strip of the 1930s. At the beginning of 1930s few billboards and gas station lined the asphalt road. Apart from a few small casinos, downtown’s Fremont Street was indistinguishable ordinary main street somewhere in Midwest.
The second period was the birth of the strip. I am referring to strip as an internationally known area for its concentration of casinos and hotel resorts along its main route. Second era began in 1939, when first casinos appeared. Although gambling became legal at 1931. Nevada legalized most forms of gambling while the construction of Hoover Dam was ongoing. Casinos were closely followed by the first motor hotel, El Rancho Vegas, designed to be a luxurious and relaxing guest house. Fremont Street mostly expanded during Second World War as some defense forces flocked to Vegas.
The third era initiated in 1946 with building of grandiose hotels, beginning with the Golden Nugget and followed by Flamingo. These places were designed in extravagant and modern style. Vegas met the national success in tourism with promotional campaigns.
The fourth period began in 1958 with Stardust. By using the sign and hotel logo as huge part of its design. This established an unconventional but very effective response to the strip site. The style spread and Fremont Street signs were growing in size and amount of lights. Some of the casinos created whole facades of glowing strips of neon.
The opening of Caesars Palace marked the fifth era. The era of themed style started in 1966, where numerous strip resorts stick to its own world based on historical period or exotic ...
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... in the next decade. This was the era of big signs, soaring more than 50 meters into the sky in front of the Dunes, Stardust, the Sahara or the Frontier. During this era the gaps in the Strip began to fill in as parking lots disappeared and hotels and casinos edged out toward the sidewalk.
“Signs started to swallow buildings.”
In 1960, casinos owners realized that specific architectural equations translate into profitable hotels. Large number of rooms meant a large number of people spending their money at the casino. So high rise became part of every hotel game plan. Elevators were placed so that customers had to walk through the casino to get to them. Restaurants, lobby and entertainment were all accessible from the casino which became the central plaza of the hotel. Each hotel tried to keep the customers in their own casino. Distances from individual hotels helped.
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