A2Z Las Vegas
Fremont Street Historical Facts
- 1905 - On May 15, 1905, the auction of
lots takes place under a mesquite tree where the Union
Plaza stands today, marking the birthdate of Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Club opens as the Overland Park Hotel. It
becomes the Las Vegas Club in 1931. Mel Exber and Jackie
Gaughan have owned it since 1961.
- 1906 - The Golden Gate originally opens
as the Hotel Nevada in 1906 and becomes the Sal Sagev in
1931. In 1955, Golden Gate becomes a casino underneath
the hotel and in 1974 Golden Gate assumes the entire
operation and the property becomes the Golden Gate.
- 1907 - The first telephone in Las Vegas
is installed at the office of Charles "Pop"
Squires at the Hotel Nevada, now the Golden Gate Hotel
and Casino. The second telephone is installed at his home
four blocks east on Fremont.
- 1910 - Legal since 1869, gambling is
- 1911 - The first moving picture is shown
at the Overland Hotel where the Las Vegas Club is today.
The original building burns down that year, partly
because there is not enough water pressure in the
hydrants. The disaster is a major stimulus to the
incorporation of the City of Las Vegas in that year.
- 1912 - Where the Coin Castle stands
today was the site of the Northern Club, opened by Lon
Groesbeck of the Salt Lake City Brewing Company. He sold
large glasses of American Beauty beer for five cents. In
1920 he was the first local casualty of prohibition when
the district attorney found 23 pints of Old McBrayer in
his room. He fled from the state to avoid a three-month
sentence and died a few months later.
- 1913 - A new street lighting system is
tested for the first time on Feb. 1. The Las Vegas Age
reports, "The installation of the street lights will
mark a long forward step in the life and business
activity of the town and is the subject for much self-
congratulation for our people."
- 1916 - W.L. James, business manager and
secretary of the Nevada Film Company, selects the San
Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad (now Union
Pacific) property west of downtown Las Vegas as the site
of a studio for the production of motion pictures
released through World Film Corporation.
- 1919 - Capping a Fourth of July
celebration featuring a parade and a welcome home
ceremony for servicemen returning from World War I, a
"street dance" complete with a full orchestra
is held on Fremont Street. The festivities also feature a
baseball game played at a brand new field constructed on
the railroad property west of downtown.
- 1920s - By the mid-1920s the Union
Pacific Depot, which was built in 1906, has five through
passenger trains running daily to L.A. In 1940 the old UP
station is razed to make way for a modern facility. In
the late 1920s, the building where the western part of
the Pioneer Club is today was operated as the Smokehouse.
In 1930 it becomes the Las Vegas Club and receives one of
the first gambling licenses in Clark County in 1931. In
the late 1940s Kell Houssels, owner of the Las Vegas
Club, moves it across the street to its present location.
- 1925 - Fremont Street is paved from Main
Street to Fifth Street.
- 1929 - The Bureau of Reclamation visits
Las Vegas to evaluate the city's potential as a housing
center for the Hoover Dam workers.
The first long
distance phone call to Las Vegas is taken at the Union
Pacific dining room, fondly called the
"Beanery" by locals. It was located next to
where the Union Plaza stands today and was probably the
town's most popular spot for social gatherings.
Will Beckley, who operated a clothing store where the
Pioneer Club is today, expands his building to three
- 1930s - In the mid 1930s, one of the
city's hottest night spots was located on Fremont Street.
The Barrel House Beer Garden had a full orchestra and
dancing every night. There was a hole cut into the wall
connecting it to the State Cafe, and patrons could order
food through the hole. The State Cafe was opened during
prohibition, but you could get a coffee pot full of
whiskey if you knew the owner.
In the 1930s, the Elks,
the Eagles and the Veterans of Foreign Wars had their
meeting halls on Fremont Street between First Street and
Second Streets. The Masons met on the second floor of the
First State Bank at First Street and Fremont Street.
- 1931 - Gambling is legalized in Nevada.
The first of only six original gaming licenses in Clark
County is issued to Mayme V. Stocker at the Northern
Club, 15 East Fremont Street, where the Coin Castle
The first traffic light is installed in
Las Vegas on Fremont Street.
- 1932 - The oldest part of the Horseshoe
Hotel and Casino opens as the Apache Hotel, with 100
rooms and the town's first elevator. It was a frequent
stopover for Hollywood celebrities such as Clark Gable
during the years of Boulder Dam construction. Before the
Horseshoe opened, the casino has also been known as the
Pache Club, S.S. Rex and Eldorado Club.
- 1933 - A Chinese restaurant opens called
the Silver Cafe. It is operated by S.M. Fong and is
located just north of Fremont Street and First Street. In
1955 the Fong family opened their new restaurant, Fong's
Garden, on East Charleston.
- 1935 - Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicates
Boulder Dam with a motorcade down Fremont Street.
Las Vegas Elks Club institutes Helldorado Days, a
week-long celebration of Las Vegas' frontier heritage
featuring a parade on Fremont Street.
- 1940s - The emergence of neon begins to
transform a drab Fremont Street into "Glitter
Gulch." In 1957, the Southern Nevada Power Company
reports a 57 percent increase in energy usage -- much of
it attributed to the proliferation of colorful neon.
- 1941 - The El Rancho Vegas opens. The
strip and the beginning of big name entertainment
The El Cortez opens.
Infamous Block 16, one block north of Fremont Street
on First Street, becomes the town's red light district
shortly after the city was founded. The brothels are more
or less officially tolerated until the Army Air Force
forces their closing with the opening of the air base in
- 1942 - California gamblers Chuck Addison
and Tutor Scherer open the Pioneer Club.
- 1945 - Wilbur C. Clark opens the Monte
Carlo Club where the Northern Club used to be and the
Coin Castle is today. In the 1950s he went on to build
and become part owner of Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn Hotel
- 1946 - The Golden Nugget opens. It is
the first structure designed from the ground up to be a
casino. Steve Wynn takes it over in 1972 and builds the
first tower in 1977. The hotel now has 1,900 rooms.
Eldorado Club is built.
- 1947 - A Texas gambler named Benny
Binion comes to town and goes into partnership with Kell
Houssels at the Las Vegas Club. When Houssels moved the
Las Vegas Club to its present location, Binion took over
the old premises and opened the Westerner Club.
- 1950s - The pharmacy and hotel located
for many years on the northwest corner of First Street
and Fremont Street is torn down. The Silver Palace Casino
opened on the same site in 1956, but closed three years
- 1951 - Benny Binion purchases the
Eldorado Club and renames it the Horseshoe. It is
currently owned and operated by his son, Jack Binion.
Vic, the waving, winking cowboy who greets downtown
visitors with a hearty "Howdy, pardnuh! Welcome to
Las Vegas!", is erected on the Pioneer Club. The
48-foot tall sign quickly becomes the most recognized
symbol of Las Vegas.
The U.S. Government begins above-ground nuclear
testing at a proving ground 65 miles northwest of Las
Vegas. Eager to capitalize on the tests, downtown hotels
serve "Atomic Cocktails" at rooftop parties
timed to coincide with the blasts, and Las Vegas reaps
worldwide publicity from photographs of mushroom clouds
rising in the distance above Fremont Street. The
radioactive festivities end in 1962, when the government
orders all testing done underground.
- 1952 - "The Las Vegas Story,"
starring Victor Mature, Jane Russell and Vincent Price,
marks its world premiere in downtown Las Vegas.
- 1956 - Sam Levinson opens the first high
rise in Nevada, the Fremont Hotel/Casino.
- 1959 - Wayne Newton opens at the Fremont
with his brother, Jerry, and a group called The Jets. Too
young to legally walk through the casino, the teenage
entertainer and future Las Vegas superstar spends his
breaks between shows having a soda at White Cross Drugs
across the street from the Fremont.
- 1960 - The downtown sign is erected on
- 1964 - Lady Luck opens.
- 1965 - The Mint opens on the site of the
- 1966 - Ben Goffstein opens the Four
Queens, named for his four daughters. Today it is under
the ownership of the Elsinore Corporation.
- 1969 - The Mint 400 takes place
- 1971 - A group of businessmen, including
J.K. Houssels, Jr., and Jackie Gaughan, open the Plaza.
In 1986 Jackie Gaughan becomes chairman of the board.
- 1974 - Sam and Bill Boyd open the
California on New Year's Eve. It remains as one of the
Boyd Group's several properties.
The Golden Nugget
provides an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas for eight
retirees who were arrested for playing penny ante poker
in a San Francisco residential hotel. The "Alexander
Hotel Eight" are treated to a day of dining and
gambling at the Golden Nugget.
- 1975 - The Four Queens places on public
display a collection of exact replicas of the Crown
Jewels of England. The display includes reproductions of
the Orb of England, the Imperial State Crown, and a
- 1978 - The city approves reconstruction
plans for Fremont Street from Main to Seventh streets,
including new curbs and storm drains, street lights, and
gambling symbols embedded in each of the eight
- 1980 - The Sundance opens as the highest
building downtown. In 1988 it becomes Fitzgeralds and is
currently owned by Jerry Turk and Phil Griffith.
- 1983 - Cashman Field opens.
- 1984 - The neon is removed from the
Golden Nugget and the spa tower is built.
- 1985 - The Boyd Group purchases the
- 1986 - Hoping to revitalize the business
core of Las Vegas, the City Council forms a downtown
- 1988 - Binion's Horseshoe purchases the
adjacent Mint Hotel from Del E. Webb Corp. for $27
million, doubling the size of the Horseshoe's casino and
adding a 24-story, 296-room high rise tower.
- 1989 - A parade honoring the memory of
slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is
staged on Fremont Street and other downtown
- 1990 - Thousands of people line the
streets of downtown Las Vegas for a victory motorcade
honoring NCAA basketball champions, the University of
Nevada- Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels.
- 1991 - Two enlisted personnel from each
branch of the military serve as grand marshalls for the
Operation Desert Homecoming parade on Fremont Street
honoring veterans of the Persian Gulf war.
- 1992 - "Monday Night Jazz"
marks its 10th anniversary at the Four Queens. The shows
are recorded and syndicated to more than 140 public radio
stations across the country.
- 1994 - Ending a 60-year tradition, the
final Helldorado Days Parade is held on Fremont Street.
Later in the year, the street is permanently closed to
vehicular traffic to make way for construction of the
Fremont Street Experience.
- 1995 - Las Vegas celebrates 90 years
downtown -- where it all began.
- Other Interesting Facts - Fremont Street
was named after John Charles Fremont, a 19th century
general and explorer who camped an expedition near the
headwaters of the Las Vegas Springs in 1844.
railroad sold lots in the new Las Vegas town site,
businesses could not sell liquor except on Block 16 and
Block 17, between First Street and Third Street and
between Ogden and Stewart Avenue. But, hotels could sell
liquor. Hence, the saloons along Fremont Street, like the
Northern and Las Vegas Clubs, added a few rooms and
called themselves hotels.
The northeast corner of First and Fremont streets was
where the First State Bank building was located until the
Mint Hotel expanded. The First State Bank was a direct
ancestor to First Interstate Bank. Clark County Sheriff
Sam Gay used to sit in a chair in front of the bank where
he could see Block 16, the gambling clubs along Fremont
Street and the train station. "No need to chase the
bad guys," he said. "Everybody passes this
corner sooner or later."
The town's only indoor movie theater after the fire at
the Overland Hotel was the Majestic Theater on the south
side of Fremont Street, just west of Second Street.
During the summer, movies were shown at the Airdome
outdoor theater on the northeast corner of Third Street
and Fremont Street. When it rained, patrons would help
the projectionist carry the equipment back to the
Information provided by the Fremont Street Experience - Las Vegas (1995)
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