The high rollers and VIPs were abuzz with sightings of actress Joan Crawford, the official hostess for the grand opening of the Strip’s newest hotel, where Liberace was performing later in the evening with his 23-piece orchestra. On April 20, 1955, the nine-story Côte d’Azur-themed Riviera opened.
That year, two other casinos opened on the Strip, the Dunes, located where the Bellagio sits today, and the Royal Nevada, site of the former Stardust, where the Malaysia-based Resort World Las Vegas will be breaking ground next week.
Although the mobsters, high rollers and socialites are all long gone, the layers of Las Vegas resort history can still be viewed: the ornate fixtures, the dazzling lighting, including some of the last remaining neon on the the Strip, and finally the famous Crazy Girls’ “No ifs, ands or butts” statue outside the west entrance of the hotel.
While some customers are enjoying the drink specials, others are walking around the property, somberly contemplating the demise of a longtime friend.
On Monday, May 5 the lights will dim and the building will close — later to be razed — to make room for the next era of Las Vegas: the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.