The history of Tropicana Las Vegas, closing after 67 years

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Since its lavish opening in 1957 on a Las Vegas boulevard surrounded by a wide desertto its quieter years amid the megaresort boom, The Tropicana Las Vegas has been a family milestone home to colorful events in a city known for its constant reinvention.

Now it’s a gem from Sin City’s past. After 67 years, the Strip’s third-oldest casino closed its doors for good on Tuesday. Demolition is scheduled for October to make way for $1.5 billion. Major League Baseball Stadium for the relocation of the Oakland Athletics, part of the latest rebranding of Las Vegas as a sports entertainment hub.

Take a look at some key moments from the Tropicana’s vibrant history.


Before its opening on April 4, 1957, a sign posted at the Tropicana construction site on a dusty Las Vegas Boulevard announced that a “desert oasis” was coming.

When the Tropicana finally arrived, it was the most expensive and luxurious casino on the Strip. Local newspaper reports from the time say that more than 12,500 people attended the grand opening.

Nicknamed the “Tiffany of the Strip” for its opulence, the Tropicana cost $15 million to build. It had three floors with 300 rooms divided into two wings, creating a footprint shaped like the letter “Y.”

Each room had a balcony. Between the wings of the complex was a crescent-shaped pool surrounded by lush gardens and towering palm trees.

A 60 foot (18 meter) tulip fountain He greeted guests at the front as they arrived. Flags of different countries lined the entrance to the casino. There were mosaics and mahogany paneled walls everywhere.

The Tropicana subsequently underwent two major hotel expansions: The Tiffany Tower opened in 1979 with 600 rooms. It was renamed Torre Paraíso. In 1986, the 800-room Island Tower opened.


Behind the scenes of the casino’s opening, the Tropicana had ties to the mafia, largely through reputed mobster Frank Costello, according to Sin City historian Michael Green, who also sits on the board of the Museum of Art. Mafia in downtown Las Vegas.

Weeks after the Tropicana’s debut, Costello was shot in the head in New York. He survived, but the police found in his coat pocket a piece of paper with the exact figure of Tropicana’s profits. The note also mentioned “money to be stolen” for Costello’s associates, according to a publication on the Mob Museum website that recalls the Tropicana’s storied past.

In the 1970s, federal authorities investigating mobsters in Kansas City would charge more than a dozen mob agents with conspiring to steal nearly $2 million in gambling revenue from Las Vegas casinos, including the Tropicana. The Tropicana-related charges alone resulted in five convictions.


On Christmas Eve 1959, the Tropicana premiered “Folies Bergere,” a topless revue imported from Paris and featuring what is now one of Las Vegas’ most recognizable icons: the feathered showgirl.

During its nearly 50-year run, “Folies Bergere” featured elaborate costumes and sets, original music that at one point was performed by a live orchestra, line dancers, magic shows, acrobats and comedy.

The cabaret appeared in the 1964 Elvis Presley film, “Viva Las Vegas.” Magicians Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn got their start in the show, as did Lance Burton.

The final curtain fell in March 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession.


The Tropicana is a Las Vegas landmark not only for its location but also for its tradition. It has long been a pop culture reference in movies and television shows, while also evoking memories of old Las Vegas.

Part of “The Godfather” was filmed at the Tropicana and in the 1971 film “Diamonds Are Forever,” James Bond stays there.

“I’ve heard the Tropicana Hotel is quite comfortable,” Bond says in the film.

Black and white photographs. that still float around the Internet today commemorate the casino’s heyday that played host to A-list stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds, and Rat Pack members like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.. Davis bought an 8% stake in the casino and became the first black person to own a stake in a major Las Vegas Strip hotel.

Mel Torme and Eddie Fisher performed at the Tropicana. Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton have resided there.

In 1998, the casino became the backdrop for the film about daredevil showman Robbie Knievel. record motorcycle jump, rising 231 feet (70 meters) above a row of 30 limousines. That day, his reckless father, Evel Knievel, accompanied him to wish his son luck.


when a gunman He opened fire on a crowded country music festival. From a high-rise suite at Mandalay Bay in October 2017, the nearby Tropicana hosted thousands of people. fleeing from gunshots.

“The Tropicana welcomed everyone. They provided first aid as needed and a safe place until the danger passed,” said Tennille Pereira, director of the Resiliency & Justice Center, formerly Vegas Strong Resiliency Center, which was created in later of the shooting to provide assistance to survivors and victims’ families.

During a recent press tour of the casino’s sprawling property ahead of its scheduled closure, a security officer took The Associated Press to the Tropicana’s “Trinidad” conference room, a massive red-and-orange-carpeted room where casino attendees concert they received help and took shelter for hours. .

sixty people They were killed in the shooting, including two who initially survived but later died from complications of their gunshot wounds.

“The Tropicana embodied the spirit of Las Vegas that night by jumping in and doing everything they could, without thinking about what that would necessarily mean to them at that moment,” Pereira said.

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