The Flamingo Las Vegas is a casino hotel that is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment along the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. Its architectural theme is reminiscent of the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne style of Miami’s South Beach, and true to its name, it includes a garden courtyard with a flamingo habitat. When first opened in 1946, the resort was the 3rd to be located on the Strip, and since the demolition of The New Frontier in 2007, it remains the oldest still in operation.
The site occupies land originally owned by one of Las Vegas’ first settlers, Charles “Pops” Squires, who paid only $8.75 an acre for it. In late 1945, mobster Bugsy Siegel came to Las Vegas because of its legalized gambling and off-track betting. However, after initially purchasing El Cortez on Fremont Street, he began looking for a site outside of the city limits when his expansion plans were hampered by city officials due to his criminal background. Siegel finally opened The Flamingo Hotel & Casino four miles from Downtown Las Vegas in December 1946 for $6 million. As the first luxury hotel on the Strip, the 105-room property was billed as “The West’s Greatest Resort Hotel”. Siegel, who once owned an interest in the Hialeah Park Race Track, viewed the flamingos who populated the area as a good omen.
In popular culture, the original film of Ocean’s 11 (1960) was shot at the hotel, as was a flashback sequence from the 2001 re-make. In the first version, the Flamingo was one of the five Las Vegas casinos robbed by characters played by The Rat Pack. And in the film Bugsy (1991) starring Warren Beatty, Bugsy Siegel’s involvement in the construction of the Flamingo is depicted, though it was heavily altered for dramatic effect. In television, the series “Vega$” (starring Robert Urich) prominently featured the Flamingo Hilton, as it was formerly known, in the opening montage. And in literature, Hunter S. Thompson, in his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, famously depicts several of his experiences from his stay at the Flamingo while attending a narcotics seminar at The Dunes, which was located just across the street.
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