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Camp Vegas, 50 Years Ago

By Chuckmonster on Sunday, 16th May 2010 3:25am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 12


With the official opening of pool season in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend and the recent announcements of pool centric Camp Vegas marketing campaign as well as the opening of the Encore Beach Club, we thought it might be interesting to try and get a little historical perspective on the Vegas pool scene via the dynamic treasure trove Vegas postcard photography.

Let's dive in!

Vintage Pool Sahara Cabanas

This early rendering of Sahara's pool surrounded by low rise lodging shows one of the earliest examples of a cabana looking structure on the far side. Could be a snack bar. One more thing... bring back the fruit baskets!

Vintage Pool Sahara Allah

At one point, the pool at Sahara was called "Garden of Allah." Good luck with that today.

Vintage Pool Caesars

Speaking of Caesars Palace, their pool deck hasn't changed all that much... ok, it has exponentially grown and a half dozen buildings have surrounded it, but the light and general vibe... nearly identical.

Vintage Pool Trop 1964

Here's the first of two postcards touting a the Tropicana's kick ass pool. The marketing message on the back sounds like it could've been written this week:

An inviting rendezvous for recreation and relaxation, the sparkling half-circle pool at the $15 million Tropicana nestles between the impressive wings of the newest and most ambitious resort hotel on the colorful Las Vegas Strip.
Vintage Pool Trop 1964

The garden apartments are still there, nearly everything else is gone.

Vintage Pool CityCenter

Las Vegas' original CityCenter Motel (c 1963) wasn't a Mandarin Oriental, but instead a Best Western. Just like the current, you have to walk outside to get from the parking area to the hotel.

Vintage Pool Sands

In the past, men were measured by their prowess on the diving board, not how well he could perform fellatio on an aluminum can of Bud Light. Almost every pool photo contains a high diving board with men flying through mid air in crucifix pose.

Vintage Pool Desert Inn

The Desert Inn had two diving boards and olympic lap lanes!

Vintage Pool Desert Inn

Primitive era bottle service from the pool bar at the Desert Inn. Imagine how hot it was slugging around drinks in a suit jacket and tie during the August burn. Whoa. Check out the St. Louis Arch thingy... I've never seen that thing before.

Vintage Pool Desert Inn

The low rise era Dunes (1950s?) featured a gigantic A-shaped pool with two diving boards, pool side tables, tree shaded lawns for lounging and a small "daybed" island right in the middle. Check out the security guard in the cowboy hat in the front right. Is that the Flamingo's "tower" poking out over the top of the hotel building?

Vintage Pool Flamingo

The Flamingo was known for having a luxurious pool patio.. The olympic size swimming pool had two diving boards. Looks like fun.

Vintage Pool Riviera

The Riviera pool also had some cabana style covered seating, lawn lounging and two diving boards.

Vintage Pool Thunderbird

The vintage pool at the Thunderbird.

Vintage Pool Stardust

The vintage pool at the Stardust also featured two diving boards, grass lounge areas and a pool side bar.

Vintage Pool Stardust

This is same Stardust pool, taken from the opposite direction.

Vintage Pool Frontier 1980

The New Frontier hotel pool... desolate and empty with two diving boards at the far end... this is the same pool shape and design the NF had until it closed. Photo circa 1980.

Vintage Pool Frontier 1982

I included this photo not because of the pool, but because of the girl with the tennis racquet. Whatever happened to hotel tennis courts?

So.... gang... are you ready to Camp Vegas?

If you happen to be interested in adding these post cards to your collection of Vegas stuff, here are the eBay listings they were poached from: Stardust, Stardust 2, Frontier, Sands, Sahara Garden of Allah, Flamingo, Tropicana, Tropicana 2, Dunes, Thunderbird.

Tagged: pools   vintage vegas   ebay   


Comments & Discussion:

and not a chode, douche, wannabe or Jersey shore lookin freak in sight!! I miss the good old days

That's because they would have ended up in a hole in the desert......

Looking at old school Vegas photos, it still surprises me that the hotels on the Strip early on were more like motels you'd see at any other tourist destination and the Riv was the first "high-rise" hotel in Vegas. I bet staying at the Westward Ho was a lot like the way it was to visit Las Vegas in the 50s and 60s before the hotels replaced these low-rise buildings with hotel towers.

"I miss the good old days"

Meh, I don't. There were dress codes back then. And the mob. And segregation. And no Frank Marino or Cher or or Holly Madison or Chippendales boys in sight... BORING!

And going back to the mob, vespajet is right...

"That's because they would have ended up in a hole in the desert......"

I can appreciate "Old Vegas" for the history, but that's about it. It's easy to glamorize it now, but back then Vegas was just a dusty little town and The Strip really was just a little hodge-podge of glorified motels with gambling halls attached. Personally, I'm much happier with the Vegas of today, the Vegas of fun pool parties, great restaurants, big clubs, great shopping, and fabulous hotels... Even if I have to tackle some douchebags to get to all of it. :-D

I love these old postcards. I think the Vegas experience was much closer to what a trip to Palms Springs is today.

Try diving into one of today's 4ft max depth pools. I seem to recall someone saying there is only one deep pool left in town (Riv or Sahara)?

For a real camping experience, there was a property (next to the old Frontier and Westward Ho?) with log cabins you could rent. Of course, you can still rent Gulfstream trailers at Circus.

Okay, am I really the only one who noticed the total copy of the two Stardust pictures "From different sides"? With the same guy on the sidewalk walking on the same slouch, the same trees leaning in the same direction, the same people in the same chairs?

Take that back, im probably the only one that cared enough to waste my time pointing it out :)

The Hilton still has tennis...

The Caesars Palace postcard has an apostrophe:
"Caesar's Palace". Someone slipped up.

The Riviera pool hasn't changed much except for the loss of the diving board. There is still a deep area. My guess is that diving boards have become extinct thanks to insurance regulations with the help of liability lawyers. The Riviera really should play up it's "old Vegas" vibe -- they really don't have much else.

Bally's pool has a really nice deep end too. Slopes down to 10-11 feet deep. Of course, the diving board is no longer in place. Nice pool, hasn't been turned into a loud party zone (at least it wasn't the last time I was there).

Great line-up of postcards. Thanks for hunting them down for us!

What's with the dead body in the foreground of the first Tropicana postcard?

"What's with the dead body in the foreground of the first Tropicana postcard?"

Perhaps a thinly veiled threat to someone "the boys" didn't like?

Great photos. I don't remember where I saw it, but there is a photo of the Sands pool circa 1955 with craps table in the middle. Awesome.

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