Essay Writing Samples

Reflective Essay on Las Vegas: Old and New

Las Vegas, Nevada is an ever-evolving town that has gone through many changes over the years to keep it the exciting and vibrant city that it remains. Are you interested in comparing Old Vegas to New Vegas? This sample MLA essay explores the history of Las Vegas.

Introducing fabulous Las Vegas

A festival of entertainment, the city tries to offer something of appeal to everyone who visits. Known for over-the-top showgirl production shows, amazing music concerts, and circus production Mystere by Cirque du Soleil, which premiered in 1993, one of eight Cirque du Soleil enterprises offered in the city, is an extravagant glut of overindulgence and too much fun (Mystere).

A mega-resort town, Las Vegas is a cornucopia of abundance that has roused the sensibilities of millions of visitors, bringing trillions of dollars to the desert gambling metropolis (“Las Vegas”). Originally a railroad and ranching town, the growth of its casinos made the unincorporated town of Paradise and Winchester a diamond of invaluable dimensions (De Silva). The city was built on vice, organized crime, racketeering, gambling, drugs, corruption, and prostitution, which was later cleaned up and replaced by corporate conglomerates (“Las Vegas”).

The Pair-o-Dice Club: Las Vegas’ first casino

Before online casinos and gambling became popular, one Las Vegas hotel was renowned for its entertainment and money-making games. In 1931, the Pair-o-Dice Club was the first casino built in the city. Located on Highway 91, the nightclub was later renamed The Ambassador Night Club, five years later (“Pair-o-Dice”). The enterprise experienced several appellation and ownership iterations over the years and was ultimately purchased by Crown Resorts and Oaktree Capital Management in 2014 (Segal). The company announced the development of a new hotel on the property called Alon Las Vegas, which is currently under construction.

Hotel Nevada: Oldest hotel casino

The oldest hotel and casino on The Strip is the Golden Gate, which opened in 1906 as Hotel Nevada (“Top 10”). It is claimed that besides being the first combination hotel and casino, it was the site of the first telephone and shrimp cocktail in town. The land, with frontage on Fremont Street, was won on auction for $1,750 (“History”). In 1927 a large electric sign was placed on the outside of the building, a predecessor of the resplendent neon signs Las Vegas has become known for. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. were regular guests here.

The age of the Flamingo Hotel

In 1946, gangster Bugsey Siegel opened the $6 million Pink Flamingo Hotel Casino, which he named after his girlfriend whose nickname was The Flamingo (“Bugsey Siegel”). On its opening night, the hotel was not fully funded or completed, and operated at a loss of over $500,000. The hotel closed within two weeks but opened again in a few months.

Due to Siegel’s partners’ suspecting that they were being double-crossed, Siegel did not live to enjoy the future success of the hotel. He was murdered in June 1947, in the home of a friend, who had left town due to an argument he had with Siegel. The hotel, now called The Flamingo Las Vegas, is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment (“Bugsey Siegel”). These incidents became popular years later as Americans became enthralled with gangster films and movies.

The emergence of The Strip

Despite Siegel’s death, his legacy and vision continued moving forward (“Las Vegas”). The mob was intricately involved in the growth of such hotels and casinos as the Sahara, the Sands, the Dunes, Riviera, Tropicana, Stardust and Caesar’s Palace until investments from Wall Street and other more palatable investors started to eclipse the corresponding decline of the mob.

Fueled by the popularity and presence of such celebrities as the Rat Pack, Elvis Presley, and others, tourists came to the Strip in droves (“Las Vegas”). The Strip got its name from the fact that all of the most important hotels and casinos, shopping venues, nightclubs, event spots, arenas, and one golf course are located on either side of Las Vegas Boulevard, between Russell Road and Sahara Avenue, approximately four miles long.

The Rat Pack era

The Rat Pack, composed of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop and Londoner Peter Lawford, came to Las Vegas to do some shows and make a movie (Rudin). Their stage act took off like gangbusters and torpedoed their careers into big movie and business deals, recitations in other cities, like Palm Springs and Miami, and gave them tremendous influence and swagger beyond the norm for famous celebrities, everyone wanted to know them and everyone wanted to be them.

Aside from being the new “cool,” they also represented the new integration of backgrounds during a time when racial tension in America was at an all-time high. Sinatra and Martin were Italians, Sammy Davis, Jr. was black, Joey Bishop was Jewish and Peter Lawford was from Britain (Rudin).

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart’s wife, saw the group of drunken entertainers at a casino one night, and legend has it that she said:

“You look like a goddamn rat pack,” and the legend was born (Rudin).

The Sands, in a brilliant move to retain their moneymakers, gave Frank Sinatra a percentage in the hotel and casino, at nine points, as well as Dean, who received one point, while Davis and Bishop had long-term contracts.

Lawford, whose career was lethargic at the time, did have an asset that Sinatra found appealing, he was married to Pat Kennedy, sister of Jack Kennedy, and found that connection beneficial (Rudin). The ethnic melting pot composition of the group, along with their came from the slums-rose to success backgrounds had particular appeal to the aspirational nature of Americans. The Pack members made fun of interracial marriage, race, gender, and ethnicity, while also making fun of themselves (Rudin).

Howard Hughes brings pizzazz to Las Vegas

The billionaire tycoon, known in his later years for his eccentricities and reclusive lifestyle, purchased the Desert Inn casino hotel rather than move out of it (“Las Vegas”). He began buying other hotels in the area and was responsible for ushering in a new level of class and style, filtering out the former mob influence. Hughes purchased nearly $300 million worth of resorts or casinos in Las Vegas, for a total of six (“Las Vegas”). He also bought Harold’s Club in Reno, Nevada, almost 500 miles to the north (Manning).

Steve Wynn reinvents the meaning of hotels and casinos

In 1967, as corporations entered the Las Vegas Strip landscape, Steve Wynn came on the scene (“Steve Wynn”). He remodeled and enlarged the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. Wynn gained ownership interests in additional casinos and in 1988 and 1998, respectively, built the luxury mega-resort and casinos The Mirage and The Bellagio. He followed these up with the 2005 opening of the Wynn Las Vegas and the 2008 opening of the Encore Las Vegas (“Steve Wynn”).

The Bellagio accommodated museum-quality, high-end artwork and has been dubbed the reason for the Vegas renaissance and an influx of well-heeled tourists. Wynn sold The Mirage to MGM Grand, Inc. in 2000 (“Steve Wynn”). While Wynn’s hotels boasted some of the most luxurious quarters and sparkling entertainment offerings, his company was affected by the protests regarding gender discrimination.

Celine Dion lights up the stage in Las Vegas

Celine Dion, a French-Canadian singer, known for having an incredible voice, amazing artistry, and numerous top awards from her native Canada and the U.S, opened a long-term engagement at The Colosseum, called A New Day. The $90 million theater built specifically for Celine’s residency show, is the central entertainment venue for Caesar’s Palace. Celine, who was on hiatus to attend to her husband and manager who recently died, has returned to the Palace to perform.

Where did the iconic neon signs go?

An incredibly unusual entertainment venue, on the Las Vegas Strip, is the Neon Museum (“The Collection”). The eclectic two acre site is a graveyard home to over 200 restored and original face neon signs that at one time adorned the marquees of Las Vegas historic buildings. The museum offers guided tours and plays host to weddings, photography events, and special programs.

Iconic neon signs, which are a Las Vegas classic, were most pronounced during the 1930 through the 1980s. The advent of LED and LCD screens saw the end of the neon sign proliferation. The signs were collected, many were restored, and the museum was created. When hotels and casino properties are remodeled or collapsed, the older signs make their way to the property (“The Collection”).

The Las Vegas showgirls

Las Vegas is most noted for its awesome entertainment (“What is a Las Vegas”). Nothing represents Las Vegas more than the statuesque showgirls who grace the stage in gleaming costumes, perfectly coiffed, with flawless makeup. A Vegas showgirl’s costume is often elaborately decorated with bright colors and shiny crystals and beads. The showgirls, who are typically tall – at least 5’8”, long-legged, and attractive, perform in theatrical, dance productions or musicals. In order to become a showgirl, a woman must have extensive dance training, often including ballet.

The elaborate costumes, embellished with rhinestones, often including g-strings, bras, and fishnets, and headpieces, include feathers and other lightweight accouterments with the goal of not adding too much weight. Showgirl costumes can weigh as much as thirty to forty pounds and are hoisted through welding and back or hip packs (“What is a Las Vegas”). A typical Las Vegas showgirl is supposed to exude elegance and grace, combined with allure and seduction. But others say this is an example of gender discrimination in the workplace.

In addition to the weight of their costumes, showgirls must manage wearing upwards of four inch heels, keeping their head raised and eyes focused forward at the audience. Prior to the arrival of the Las Vegas showgirls, the dancers would interact with the casino patrons, including gambling and drinking with them. Margaret Kelly brought showgirls to Las Vegas from Paris, and insisted that they be untouchable and never mingle with the audience or casino patrons. Although the terminology, showgirls, has been used in a variety of unrelated circumstances, Las Vegas showgirls are not strippers or escorts.

The oldest profession

As with many cities in the United States, Las Vegas offers many vice opportunities to its tourists on the prowl (Knapp). There are nightclubs that offer topless strippers, while online services offer escorts and some prostitutes walk The Strip. Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but it is legal in some rural, isolated areas where brothels are regulated (Knapp).

The Las Vegas jails

For those who get in trouble in Las Vegas, they will likely be held in custody at the Clark County Detention Center (“The Clark County Detention”). The jail, run by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, is home to those who are under arrest, awaiting a trial or bail hearing, wanted for extradition or serving a sentence for a minor crime. The center experiences a large influx of inmates for a large variety of charges. Many offenders are repeat and familiar quasi-residents. Las Vegas also has a high violent crime rate.

Works Cited

“Bugsy Siegel opens Flamingo Hotel.” A E Television Networks, LLC. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

De Silva, Kristeen. “Knowing Vegas: Why isn’t the Strip in Las Vegas?” Las Vegas-Review Journal. Las Vegas-Review Journal, Inc. 3 August 2015. Web. 25 March 2016.

“History.” Golden Gate Hotel Casino. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

Knapp, George. “I-Team: Prostitution linked to serious crimes on the Strip.” Las Vegas Now. Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. 8 February 2016. Web. 25 March 2016.

“Las Vegas.” A E Television Networks, LLC. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

Manning, Mary. “Howard Hughes: A revolutionary recluse.” Las Vegas Sun. 15 May 2008. Web. 25 March 2016.

“Mystere.” Mystere. Cirque du Soleil. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

“Pair-O-Dice Club and Early Las Vegas Strip.” Online Nevada Encyclopedia. Nevada Humanities. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

Rudin, Max. “The Rat Pack.” PBS. PBSOnline. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

Segal, Eli. “Work is underway at Alon Las Vegas, formerly New Frontier, on the north Strip.” Vegas Inc. 4 November 2015. Web. 25 March 2016.

“Steve Wynn: Biography.” A E Television Networks, LLC. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

“The Clark County Detention Center Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys.” Las Vegas Defense Group. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

“The Collection.” The Neon Museum. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

“Top 10 Historic Spots.” n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

“What is a Las Vegas Showgirl?” Las Vegas Performing Arts. n. d. Web. 25 March 2016.

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