Watch El Cortez's first-ever fireworks display
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In 1941, El Cortez Hotel and Casino made its grand debut in Sin City. Opening on November 7, 1941, the El Cortez is the oldest continuously-operating hotel-casino in Las Vegas. The family-owned property celebrates 80 years this weekend with a series of special anniversary events.
On Saturday, November 6, Mayor Goodman will kick-off the festivities with a speech, followed by a roaming mariachi band from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the El Cortez’s first-ever fireworks display at 9 p.m.
Guests can also enjoy complimentary champagne from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. There will also be up to $35,000 in cash drawings for slot and table game players throughout Saturday and Sunday.
Not only does the occasion commemorate the El Cortez’s storied history, it also marks a new chapter in its legacy, celebrating its recently completed $25 million renovations. Recent upgrades include a revamped casino floor with new ceilings and carpeting, 200 remodeled tower rooms and suites, an updated hotel lobby and a new high-limit room.
Fun Facts About the El Cortez
On the El Cortez’s website, they highlight some of their most monumental moments on a timeline. Here are a few fun facts about this historic gem.
In 1941, John Kell Houssels teamed up with John Grayson from California, and Marion Hicks, a Los Angeles Architect and developer, to build the first major Downtown Las Vegas resort, the El Cortez Hotel-Casino. The property was designed with a Spanish Ranch theme and only had 59 rooms.
In 1953, the Supper Club was renamed The Pirate’s Den. “Pretty Pirates” painted by Denny Stephenson adorned the walls. The dinner theater was the only venue in Vegas at that time to have a female maitre’d, Pat Gallagher. But in 1957 new management said goodbye to the pirate theme.
In 1958, The Celebrity Lounge opened. From 5:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. live entertainment played non-stop. Jerry Dexter hosted “El Cortez Calling” on Keno 1460 live from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.
In 2009, El Cortez opened 64 El Cortez Cabana Suites in the former Ogden Hotel. This new addition boosted their room count to 364.
El Cortez’s sold pieces of their popular rose carpet in their gift shop during renovation. Vintage Vegas lovers quickly bought them out. The busy carpet certainly played tricks on tourists’ eyes and is featured in the iconic film, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
Happy anniversary, El Cortez! Here’s to 80 more years!
The El Cortez is located at 600 East Fremont Street in the Fremont East Entertainment District.
Feature image courtesy of Vintage Las Vegas’ Instagram.