Las Vegas is a great city, but it does not have a long and legendary past. Its history in the middle of the desert officially began in 1905, so its age is just 110 years. It can not be compared to Rome, Moscow or New York. Moreover, until 1931, when gambling was legalized in it, the town was completely unremarkable. In fact, according to historical standards, it is very young.
But imagine, one casino building is still standing in this city. It was built in 1906, almost immediately after Las Vegas was founded. And so it can not be called new. Firstly it was just a hotel. However the time of construction made it the oldest casino in Las Vegas.
The Golden Gate is inextricably linked with the history of Las Vegas, so it would not be foolish to consider them in tandem. The Golden Gate is a testament and a reminder that some things are still sacred for the city. This casino did the impossible and within a hundred years turned into a super-developed megalopolis from a small village in the desert, destroying much of its architectural past.
History of the Casino
The Golden Gate celebrated its 100th anniversary on November 14, 2006. The slogan on their website states: "Everything that happens in Vegas started here." And they are not joking. The Golden Gate is considered to be the oldest casino in Las Vegas, despite the fact that its name changed several times and it underwent some restorations and several modifications.
When Las Vegas officially became a town, the land along Fremont Street near the train station was sold at auction. The site at Fremont Street, 1, where now you can find the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, was purchased by John Miller for $1,750. The building was completed during the year, and over a dozen rooms opened their doors for the first visitors. The cost of accommodation and food was $1 per day. The rooms had electricity and steam radiators, but there was no air conditioning, which had not yet been invented. Therefore, it was stuffy in the rooms. The air temperature in the summer frequently exceeded 40 degrees!
Nevada Hotel was a pioneer in Las Vegas in many ways. The hotel building was the first brick building, appeared on Fremont Street. The domestic electricity, steam radiators and ventilation of rooms firstly appeared there. The first phone in Las Vegas was installed in the hotel in 1907. In the same year the hotel made the first attempt to become the casino and began to offer visitors the roulette and poker at its bar called Apache. However this attempt was unsuccessful: in 1909 the city fathers declared online gambling illegal.
When gambling was legalized in 1931, Nevada Hotel got the new name Sal Sagev (Las Vegas spelled backwards). There were tables for poker, roulette, craps and eight slot machines. In the basement, the refrigeration unit was installed, which only pretended to cool the air. However workers, who visited the casino, did not notice the heat. They enjoyed the game and a wide range of beers.
In 1955, the hotel and casino were bought by Italo Ghelfi and the group of his business partners from San Francisco: Alfred Durante, Leo Massaro, Robert Picardo, Fred Detore, Bernard F. Perata, A.A. Harris and Remi Gacherieu. They managed it until 1990, when the family Ghelfi purchased partners' shares. In memory of San Francisco, the hotel was renamed and became known as the Golden Gate. With the development of Las Vegas, more and more tourists visited the city and the casino finally began to gain considerable profits.
In 1959, its own feature appeared in Golden Gate, which was the shrimp cocktail, invented by Italo Ghelfi. Now it is one of the attractions of Las Vegas, but in those days people from all over the Las Vegas got in line to pay 50 cents and try this cocktail. Many people stood in line the second and the third time! The cocktail price remained unchanged for almost 50 years, despite the fact that the casino lost 300 thousand dollars per year! The first increase in price to $2 occurred only in 2008. In 1991, the Golden Gate celebrated the sale of the 25 millionth portion of the shrimp cocktail. This famous cocktail is served at Golden Gate, but now it costs $4.
In the 60s a small hotel was extended and rebuilt, and comfortable rooms finally appeared in it. The Golden Gate became the same establishment as we know it today.
The Golden Gate after Reconstruction
In September 2008, Mark Brandenburg, the adopted son of Italo Ghelfi, sold a 50% interest in the property of the Golden Gate to the investment company Desert Rock Enterprises, owned by brothers Derek and Greg Stevens. And in 2012, the first major renovation of the Golden Gate Casino and Hotel finally began, which was the first one for more than 50 years.
Old vintage bars and halls of the casino became more open and modern, and a new five-story tower of the hotel was built.
We wanted to keep a sense of history of this place, but the rooms had to be more modern - said the president and co-owner Mark Brandenburg. - We wanted to create a mixture of old and new, to restore the hotel in the first class condition as it was when it opened. Only now it does not look like a boutique hotel, but rather like one of the mega-resorts.
Indeed, the Golden Gate seems to be perfect now. One hundred and six newly renovated rooms in which casino visitors have been living since 1906 are equipped with plush beds, flat screen TV, clock radio, cable TV, voicemail and connection ports for laptops. Most of these rooms can be booked for less than $50 per night.
Sixteen luxe rooms are located in the new tower of the hotel. Accommodations are comparable to those that can be found in the best rooms on the Las Vegas Strip. They represent a kind of mixture of modern amenities with decorative elements from the past. Rooms have 50-inch flat screen TV, super comfortable bed King of California, as well as climate control device with motion detector. The fee for staying at the hotel is between $109 and $250 per night.
Each of the new penthouses has a closed patio with fireplace, ceiling fan, large flat screen TV and gas grill. In addition, two penthouses that occupy the entire fifth floor of the tower are extravagantly furnished. The great attention is also paid to the unification of more than centennial history of the hotel.
The expansion and construction significantly exceeded my expectations - admitted Brandenburg. - At first it was not clear what would happen if we took the historical style and mixed it with modern expectations, but it was wonderful.
The reconstruction provided the opportunity to develop and improve what had been before. Among the highlights, we can mention new parking and expanded casino floor. Now there are bright new lobbies, whose decoration includes wood flooring, antique lamps and gold-colored ceiling. In the hall of the casino the artifacts of the past of the Golden Gate are available. On one wall visitors can see a collage of historic photographs of almost every decade of the casino. The large window display at the entrance contains the elements of gambling entourage since 1907 and a collection of whiskey bottles of the period of Prohibition.
Of course, it has some modern additions. Recently the hotel has established the first in the state completely digital high-resolution video surveillance system. It is located in the casino next to the two-way mirrors that in the 50s were used to detect fraudsters. In order to protect the environment, the Golden Gate installed the first in Nevada elevator Otis Gen2. There are only 16 its copies all over the world. It uses a technology that generates power when the elevator is moving, thereby reducing the use of electricity. Closed geothermal wells are responsible for maintaining the temperature of drinks, cooled in the open air in one of the hotel's bars. Finally, the facade of the Golden Gate was restored to return it to the initial state, but with modern LED backlighting.
The new Golden Gate preserves and enhances the heritage of Las Vegas. This is not just a renovated classic century-old building. It embodies the spirit and mystery of Las Vegas - said Mark Brandenburg summing up the results of the reconstruction.
The floor of the CasinoThe Golden Gate has quite modest size of the playing hall compared to the monsters from the Las Vegas Strip. In the hall of the casino, there are several dozens of new slots and a large number of video poker slot machines. There are also table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, 3-Card Poker and Let It Ride Poker.
Table limits at Golden Gate are quite low. The main floor accepts bets from $10 to $2,500. The maximum bet in the hall for high rollers, which is separated from the rest of the gambling tables, is $5,000.
The Golden Gate still has its famous shrimp cocktail that costs $3.99 at the Du-Par's Restaurant. Nowadays, the casino can boast the fact that it has sold more than 40 million portions of these delicious drinks. But, of course, the shrimp cocktail is not the only dish. Du-Par's is a restaurant with a full-service. It is open 24 hours a day and offers the diverse menu at reasonable prices. The restaurant also has its own bakery.
Thus, the Golden Gate is the oldest casino of Las Vegas, and it has a long and legendary history, which happens rarely in Las Vegas. If you, dear readers of the portal Casinoz, will be in Las Vegas and want to taste the history of this city, visit Fremont Street, 1 and play at Golden Gate Casino. After passing through the ups and downs of the twentieth century, the Golden Gate continues to shine brightly in the current XXI century. You can visit the museum of the hotel and see numerous antiques, including the first phone of the city. You can have a beer at the same bar where Frank Sinatra drank his beer.
And do not forget to enjoy the taste of shrimp cocktails!