By now, you guys know that I call Chicago home and I am truly a devotee to the Midwest, but my heart does belong to another city as well. I have been going to Las Vegas every summer since I was two, and it is probably my favorite place in the world, but not for the same reason it is for other people. Most people think of Vegas as an adult playground filled with titubant partying, gambling, and heavy drinking. And while it is all of those things, to me it reminds me of my family, long lazy days by the pool, and a history rich with crooners and showgirls. Vintage Las Vegas from the ‘50s and ‘60s was a place of extreme elegance and seduction, which is still the way I like to think of it, when you get past the drunken haze.
Starting its scandalous reputation early, in the Twenties Las Vegas was known for its numerous speakeasies catering to tourists and mobsters alike. The city was called “seedy” by the rest of the state and the country, but there’s no doubt that it served a very particular clientele.
Boulder Dam construction brought thousands of single and over-worked men to Las Vegas, and the Nevada state legislature soon leaned that illicit entertainment was extremely profitable, legalizing gambling in 1931. That same year, the iconic Fremont Street was paved and soon it lit up the night sky.
Wherever tourists and gambling were, the money soon flowed in as well. And where the money was, the celebrities and mafia followed. Everyone from Elvis to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack began to call Las Vegas their own, performing in intimate venues and entertaining the wealthy tourists. The Mob had their hand in several of the lucrative hotels and casinos, scandalizing the rest of the country but also making the city an even bigger draw.
Though Hunter S. Thompson wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in 1971, from the 1970’s through today, Vegas has become a booming (and legitimate) city. Megaresorts and condominiums are constantly being built and growing, making the city as amazing and wondrous for kids as it is for 21 year olds and bachelorettes. I can attest to it’s luxurious magic and I’m sure several of you can as well!
Best Vintage Stores
- The Attic
- Electric Lemonade
- Charleston Antique Mall