Photo Friday in Las Vegas: So Long, Sahara

Hotels — By thmeeks on May 20, 2011 at 3:50 pm

This week marked the passing of one of the Strip’s oldest properties, the Sahara, which opened in 1952. The iconic hotel casino’s demise attracted national attention. In Las Vegas, people expressed mixed views about the closing—the Sahara had become a budget destination, and its age was showing. Despite a valiant effort to bring life to the elderly property with attractions like the Cyber Café and a roller coaster, on Monday, May 16, the doors were closed and the lights turned off. Today’s Photo Friday takes a look at the Sahara in its better days, back when Las Vegas was a small place and the Rat Pack roamed the Strip.

In 1950, two years before the Sahara opened, Clark County’s population was 48,289. Clark County’s population in 2011: 1,951,269. (Source: Las Vegas Sun.) The aerial picture below of the Sahara is undated, but clearly shows a lightly populated Las Vegas.

In its heyday, big-name performers headlined at the Sahara. It was one of the hotel casinos robbed in the original “Ocean’s 11,” filmed in 1960 and starring the Rat Pack.

That famous face below is Elizabeth Taylor at the Sahara in 1956, with Michael Wilding, one of her 7 husbands. (She was married 8 times, twice to Richard Burton.) The iconic actress passed away this year on March 23. Apparently, it’s been a hard year for icons of all sorts.___________________

Photos courtesy of theboyds at flickr.

Tags: Sahara Hotel Casino


  • Christina says:

    Goodbye to another classic Vegas icon. I saw on the show, “Storage Wars”, a few weeks ago about a Las Vegas neon sign boneyard. It had tons of old, classic Vegas hotel neon signs no longer in use. Is that open to the public? I think Reno might be opening a neon sign museum to highlight (no pun intended) classic, hotel and casino signs and lighting.

  • Terrisa says:

    Hi Christina! The Neon Museum’s Boneyard is downtown & up until quite recently they were only open for tours if you made an appointment–but they’re working on being more public-friendly. Within the past week or so they opened a small area to the public (no appointment needed) and they are restoring the La Concha as a future visitor center. They’ve got several old vintage signs on display on Fremont Street, which is cool. Reno would be the next best place for a Neon Museum!


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