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Las Vegas Tropicana Casino celebrates final day in 67 years

LAS VEGAS (AP) — In the 1971 movie “Diamonds Are Forever,” James Bond checks into a luxurious suite at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.

“I heard the Tropicana Hotel is very comfortable,” Agent 007 said.

This was the heyday of Tropicana Casino. The lavish casino was a haunt of the legendary Rat Pack, and its past under mob rule cemented its place in Vegas lore.

But after welcoming guests for 67 years, the doors to the Las Vegas Strip’s third-oldest casino will close at noon Tuesday and be demolished in October to make way for $1.5 billion. Major League Baseball Stadium — as part of a rebranding of the city’s newest sports and entertainment complex.

“It’s time. It’s done,” Charlie Granado, a bartender at Tropicana for 38 years, said of the casino’s closing. “It makes me sad, but on the other hand it’s sad It’s a happy ending for everyone.”

When Tropicana opened in a stretch of land surrounded by vast expanses of desert, the population of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, was just over 100,000. It cost $15 million to build over three floors, divided into two wings, with a total of 300 rooms.

Its manicured lawns and elegant showrooms earned it the nickname “Tiffany’s on the Strip.” There’s a towering tulip-shaped fountain near the entrance, and there are mosaic tiles and mahogany-paneled walls throughout.

Black and white photo From that time, you can learn about the Tropicana Hotel in its heyday, when its showrooms regularly hosted A-list stars—from Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr..

Mel Torme and Eddie Fisher performed at the Tropicana. Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton had residencies there.

In a city known for its reinvention, the Tropicana itself has undergone significant changes as Las Vegas has grown. Two more hotel towers were later added. In 1979, a $1 million green-amber tinted glass ceiling was installed above the casino floor.

In 1978, at the age of 26, Barbara Boggess started working at the Tropicana Hotel as a linen housekeeper.

“Tropicana sits here almost alone,” Boggs said. “It’s surrounded by desert. It used to take me 10 minutes to get to work. Now it takes an hour.”

Boggess, 72, has overseen numerous remodels of the Tropicana, including a name change to “Las Vegas Island” in the 1980s with a poolside blackjack table and a South Beach-themed renovation completed in 2011 .

Today, only the low-rise hotel room wing remains of the original Tropicana building, but the casino still evokes the retro nostalgia of Las Vegas.

“It really gives it an old Las Vegas vibe. When you first walk in, you see the stained glass and the low ceilings,” said Las Vegas, who visited the casino in March. said JT Seumala, a resident of Gass. timely. “

Seumala and his husband paid homage to the landmark by staying at the Tropicana. They wandered the casino floors and hotels, walked through casual hallways, and explored the convention center. They tried their luck at blackjack and roulette and talked over cocktails. Waiter who has worked there for 25 years. At the end of their stay, they pocketed some red $5 chips in honor of the casino.

Casino Tropicana opened decades ago behind the scenes with ties to organized crime, primarily through reputed gangster Frank Costello.

A few weeks after the grand opening, Costello was shot in the head in New York. Police found a piece of paper in his coat pocket with the Tropicana’s exact revenue figures on it. The note also reportedly mentioned that “money was to be misappropriated” from Costello’s colleagues. a post Review the history of the Tropicana on the Mob Museum’s website.

By the 1970s, federal authorities investigating Kansas City gangs charged more than a dozen gangsters with conspiring to steal nearly $2 million in gambling revenue from Las Vegas casinos, including the Tropicana. Tropicana-related charges alone resulted in five convictions.

But the famed hotel-casino has also seen years of mob-free success. It is home to the city’s longest running show, the Folies Bergere. A nude burlesque show imported from Paris, featuring what is now one of the most famous acts in Las Vegas. Icon: Feathered Showgirl.

During its nearly 50 years in operation, Folies Bergere featured elaborate costumes and stage sets, original music by a live orchestra, line dancing, magic shows, acrobatics and comedy.

This cabaret was featured in the 1964 Elvis Presley film “Viva Las Vegas.” It begins with a show by magicians Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn.

Today, the site sits at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where it intersects a main thoroughfare named after a tropical garden and is surrounded by the towering mega-resorts that Las Vegas is now famous for.

But nearby is the home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders (which left Oakland, California in 2020) and the city’s first major league professional team, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

The baseball stadium planned for land beneath the Tropicana is expected to open in 2028.

“There’s a lot of debate about whether it should stay or should go away,” Semara said, “but what I love about Vegas is that it’s always reinventing itself.”

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