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Vintage Vegas: See Downtown Vegas Hotels in the Good Ol’ Days

In 1905, the city of Las Vegas was born. A booming railroad town, the Union Pacific brought in poker chips and whiskey to what would one day become Downtown Las Vegas. One year later the first casino, Hotel Nevada (now the Golden Gate), was built, charging just $1 for room and board. Their address? 1 Fremont Street. The hotel called itself “first class” because it offered electricity and steam heat with ventilation.

In 1907, the hotel invested in a telephone. Their phone number was “1.” Business thrived until in 1910 gambling was outlawed in Nevada. Can you imagine? They functioned as a hotel only until 1931 when gambling was again legalized. By this time, the roads were paved and cars were more popular than horses. Hotel Nevada also underwent their first name change to “Sal Sagev” (Las Vegas spelled backwards). Just two years later in 1933 the ban on drinking ended, and prohibition went out the window. They were stunned to discover that whiskey had been illegal all this time!

The Sal Sagev was changed to The Golden Gate Casino in 1955 when Italian-American men from the San Francisco bay area came to change the scene of gambling, bringing with them a affordable and delectable shrimp cocktail. Now a Las Vegas tradition, locals made this iconic shrimp cocktail a staple by voting this dish “Best of Las Vegas” several years in a row.

90 years after the land was purchased, the Fremont Street Experience was created in 1995, transforming forever the look of the neon street into a unique theatre and Viva Vision light show with its ten story high, 12.5 million lights.

Today, vintage meets modern Vegas in the unique preservation and rejuvenation of historic landmarks like the El Cortez hotel and casino, as well as the Gold Spike and Oasis at Gold Spike boutique hotel. While the hotels may have changed their looks (and prices), Downtown Las Vegas remains a unique experience that cannot be recreated elsewhere. Come for the food, the drinks and excellent hotel service but also come and see the history of a town that persevered through prohibition and gambling bans as one of the most popular gaming hubs in the world.

Stay close to the action of downtown by staying at Oasis on Gold Spike. You’ll experience a Vegas boutique hotel, just a few blocks from the Fremont Street Experience and the historic Golden Gate Casino.

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