‘New’ Las Vegas Celebrates 20 Years

Anthony Curtis’ weekly syndicated Vegas column.

November 18, 2009

 It was 20 years ago today that Las Vegas crossed over from old to new with the opening of its first megaresort, the Mirage. Built on the site of the old Castaways—whose sports book manager famously set a line on “who shot J.R.”—no one had ever seen anything like Steve Wynn’s $650 million, 3,000-room, volcano-erupting, white-tiger-displaying, high-roller resort, which officially inaugurated the casino construction boom that stretched from Las Vegas to riverboats in Iowa and several other U.S. states; gambling halls in historic mining towns in South Dakota and Colorado; and hotel-casino strips in Mississippi; plus two huge Native American casinos in Connecticut, a dozen major tribal operations in California, and hundreds of small ones around the country. The white building with the shimmering gold trim has undergone several upgrades over its two decades and is still one of the city’s top destinations.

Fireworks Elevated: After last year’s dismal ground-level New Year’s Eve fireworks display, which was barely visible to most, it’s been announced that this year’s “America’s Party” pyrotechnics will revert to being fired from seven rooftop locations. The decision to go terrestrial was based largely on concerns stemming from the rooftop fire at the Monte Carlo earlier last year. However, Clark County Fire Department and Building Services and the individual resort properties have put in place new controls that have allayed concerns tied to the roof-top launchings.

Cabo Wabo: The long-awaited branch of the Sammy Hagar-owned Cabo Wabo nightclubs has opened. It’s located at Planet Hollywood in the spot formerly occupied by Trader Vic’s and boasts a spectacular outdoor dining area looking across the Strip at the soon-to-open CityCenter complex.

Question: Do you dare impart details of the Las Vegas Stripper-Mobile?

Answer: The so called Stripper-Mobile—a truck with a Plexiglas covering that housed a live pole dancer—patrolled the streets for a couple weeks, before it was pulled under pressure from city and county authorities. It was an advertising gimmick for a couple of the local strip clubs.

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