The Flamingo Las Vegas is the oldest hotel still operating on the Vegas strip. It was originally built in 1946 and was the third hotel to be built on the strip, after the El Rancho and the Hotel Last Frontier. Today it is owned by Caesars Entertainment, and has a number of permanent shows and live acts, as well as a large casino.
History of the Flamingo Las Vegas
The site that Flamingo Las Vegas is on is 40 acres large and was originally owned by one of Las Vegas’ original settlers, Charles Pops Squires. The land was sold to a man called Billy Wilkerson, who had a number of nightclubs in the Sunset Strip. Wilkerson’s vision was to build a hotel and casino in Las Vegas that was on par with popular European ones, not just a Sawdust Joint as was currently found on Fremont Street.
He planned a large hotel with luxurious rooms, a spa, a golf course, nightclubs and upscale dining options with a large French style casino of course. The planning and development of his dream came at a bad time however, as the Second World War had just broken out, and building materials were hard to come by. In late 1945 mobster Bugsy Siegel came to town and took an interest in the still unfinished Flamingo Las Vegas. He bought a two thirds stake in the project by posing as a businessman. Siegel took over construction and convinced more of his mobster buddies to invest in the project. He had a secret ladder built into the Presidential Suite in case of emergency escape. The ladder led down to an underground garage where a chauffeured limo was always waiting.
Flamingo Las Vegas opened finally in 1946 at a cost of $6 million. It boasted 105 luxury rooms and the only Spa on the strip. Legend has it that the resort was named for Siegel’s girlfriend, who loved to gamble and whose nickname was Flamingo due to her long skinny legs. Unfortunately for Siegel, a year after the breaking of ground of Flamingo Las Vegas, it has produced no revenue and had drained the resources of his underworld investors. It was discovered that money was being skimmed and sent to Switzerland, and that Siegel had plans to follow his money. Despite this, the grand opening was held even though the resort was not finished. It closed soon after and reopened in 1947, finally to produce a profit. This was not enough to save Sigel however, who was shot to death in June 1947 in his Beverly Hills house. A memorial plaque is exists to this day outside the chapel at Flamingo Las Vegas.
Flamingo Las Vegas Today
Over the years the Flamingo Las Vegas changed hands numerous times, but is still in operation today. It has been renovated and extended many times, and now boasts a 15 acre site with art deco architecture. It has a monorail station and a regular train station at the rear of the property. In the centre of the hotel is a garden courtyard that has its own wildlife habitat featuring Chilean Flamingos and other exotic birds. Many shows, including some permanent ones, play every night at various venues. Acts such as Olivia Newton John and Gloria Gaynor are staples. All the rooms are now modern and offer all the same amenities as all the newer hotels on the strip. A number of restaurants offer different dining experiences and the 15000 sq foot casino is open twenty four hours a day.