Discover the Sights and Sounds of Old Vegas
New York, NY, USA
Discover the Sights and Sounds of Old VegasModern Las Vegas is nothing like what most people imagine it to be. The golden era of showgirls, mobsters, incredibly cheap buffets and iconic casinos is long gone, but the neon image from the 50’s remains firmly engrained in our minds. Much to the chagrin of those clinging to the past, Sin City continually transforms to conform to grander aspirations imposed by the world. While the new, corporate Vegas does little to excite those who have witnessed smoke-filled floors of the Riviera, or superstar performers rocking the stages on the old Strip, there is still plenty of leftover vintage fun, to be found around the city. You just have to dig a little deeper, well beyond the high-end glamour dominating the Strip.
Go Retro Freemont Style
It may come as a shocker, but there’s more to Vegas than what can be seen on the Strip. For a healthy dose of nostalgia, you owe yourself the Freemont Street Experience. You’ll find it downtown, a few miles north up the Boulevard, where the architecture and vibe have kept some of the iconic retro sheen. Drop your luggage off at The El Cortez, or The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino – they both have neon signs, comfy rooms and rich history. Owned by Bugsy Siegel, a gangster celebrity of his time, the former still looks exactly like it did back in the 40’s – it’s the only casino in Vegas offering slots with real quarters. The latter was the first to serve the legendary shrimp cocktail, and they’ve kept it at a ridiculous price of $.99 for over fifty years. You’re too late to try it now, but there are other relics of the past to enjoy. They don’t call the area Glitter Gulch for nothing!
This 40-foot tall, neon cowboy has been watching over the city since 1951. His cheeky smile is a staple of every Vegas film, commercial or show that has ever graced the silver screens. His trademark moving cigarette and waving arm welcomed many generations of visitors. Vic also had a special greeting, emanating from the speakers every 15 minutes – ‘’Howdy Podner!’’ was too loud, however, so the old cowboy was silenced in 2006. His checkered red and yellow shirt still glows from the exterior wall of a gift shop, where the Pioneer Club used to be.
The Mob Museum
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement is the place to visit if you want to uncover all the shady bits and pieces of the desert city’s history. Everybody knows Las Vegas wouldn’t be what it is today, without the Mafia and their knack for business. It was the mobsters who recognized the enormous gambling potential of post-war Vegas, and helped transform a small desert town in the middle of nowhere, into a prime destination for entertainment and nightlife.
The Museum offers an interactive learning experience – you’ll get to shoot guns, watch the authentic footage, listen to real wire taps, and learn about the most prominent figures from the history of organized crime.
The Neon Boneyard
Scattered across six acres of land, more than 260 casino signs lay dormant as silent witnesses of the bygone era. Dating from the 1930’s to recent times, they are all that’s left from Stardust, Moulin Rouge, La Concha, Hacienda, Sahara, Desert Inn, Caesars Palace and many other imploded or demolished Nevada casinos.
Consisting of both authentic signs and replicas, the collection is available for guided tours, photo shoots and filming. Some of the exhibits have been taken out of the Boneyard and the North Gallery and placed along Freemont Street as part of its popular Experience tour.
A blast from the past, the yard attracts historians, artists and gambling enthusiasts alike. Resting in the sand, out in the open, the boneyard is a sight to see for every Vegas visitor.
A Touch of Class at 4 Queens Casino
Heavy on the meat and seafood specialties, this old-school restaurant is vintage Vegas at its best. Resisting minimalist trends, Hugo’s Cellar is a throwback to the days of old, with classic dishes and famous sommeliers. The place had remained resistant to change since 1973 when it opened as part of the Hyatt hotel chain. Ask any local about this hidden cellar gem, and you’ll hear about their famous salad carts, tasty lobsters and Banana Fosters.