The Riviera is going away for good.

Sixty years ago, when the Riviera debuted on the famed Las Vegas Strip, she was the cutting edge of modern technology. Nine stories tall, the first high-rise on the Strip and a mid-century lovers dream come true. She opened on April 20, 1955 with 291 rooms,  a pylon sign that "skewered the thin porte-cochere like a toothpick through a cheese canape" according to our friend Alan Hess and a second V-shaped marquee sign at the roadside entrance to the hotel.

Riv model
The Riv marquee

 

The Treniers opened the Starlight Lounge. The lounge, just off the lobby, had a 150-foot free-form stage bar and the lighting fixtures were brass in a starburst design against a teal blue sky canopy.

The Treniers

The Treniers

Liberace and his brother George opened the main showroom with Academy Award winning actress Joan Crawford as the official hostess for the opening. She reportedly received $10,000 for four days of greeting people.

The Clover Room where Liberace performed held seating for 532 people for the dinner show and 700 for the late show. At 10,000 square feet, it was the largest showroom on the Strip.

There were stumbles almost from the beginning. The hotel, run by Miami oriented operators unaccustomed to gambling watched as the hotel slid towards bankruptcy shortly after opening. They quickly hired Gus Greenbaum, Davey Berman, Ben Goffstein and Ross Miller to take over the day to day operations. A short time later, the Riv was making a profit.

Shecky Greene headlined the Riviera lounge and, according to Riv publicist Tony Zoppi, "was single-handedly responsible for keeping the hotel in business" An up and coming singer from New York named Barbra Streisand made her Las Vegas debut at the Riv opening for Liberace in 1963.

Shecky Greene

Shecky Greene

The hotel expanded to meet the demands of the growing number of tourists and high rollers that flowed into Las Vegas for fun and excitement. After leaving the fabled Sands hotel, singer Dean Martin moved over to the Riv complete with his own place, Dino's Den.

But as the years rolled on, the Riv found it harder and harder to keep up with the changing face of the Strip.

As tourists and high rollers flocked to the newer hotels, the Riv slid further down. It soon became known as the place for conventioneers (due to its proximity of the back entrance to the Las Vegas Convention Center) and low rollers with a limited budget.

The original facade was changed years ago and over the years, a Burger King added along with the fanciful wall of glass and neon.

The Riv

 

But no amount of cosmetics could make up for the neglect and the changing tastes.

The Riv has stood like the lady she is against the buffeting winds of change for years as she watched original hotel after original hotel fall to the wrecking ball.

And now word comes that Riv's days are coming to an end. The Las Vegas Convention  and Visitors Authority, in need of land for expanding the already humongous Las Vegas Convention Center, has bought the land and the hotel. . No date has been officially announced for demolition though rumors of a summer demolition are running rampant.

When she goes, she will leave the Strip with only remaining original hotel still standing, the Tropicana which has been remodeled and vastly altered over the years.

Here is hoping the Marge Williams designed marquee sign once graced the front of the hotel and was moved to the Paradise Road entrance many years ago, finds a home at the Neon Museum along with some of the fanciful neon from the glass front facade.

The owners of the Peppermill right next door recently  signed a 12 year lease with the owner of the land it sits on so for now, it would seem, the Peppermill is not in the sights of the LVCVA. Here's hoping.

So here's to the Riv. In her hey-day, she was a mid-century marvel of design and home to one of the funniest men who ever worked the Strip.

Vaya con dios, Lady Riv and thanks for the memories! 

The original Riv



Blue Angel Motel being demolished but sign to remain

The Blue Angel Motel, long a staple on East Fremont street, with its iconic Betty Willis angel hovering over the neighborhood for over sixty years, is being demolished.  The new owners swear the sign will remain.

 

Stay tuned! More to come!

Blue Angel Motel

Great new book for fans of Classic Las Vegas

Author and historian Jeff Burbank has a terrific new book that should be part of any Classic Las Vegas fan's library.

Lost Las Vegas

The book covers a variety of places that aren't there any more including some very familiar landmarks and beloved local haunts.

It is available on Amazon (I received it as a Christmas present this year and devoured it before the day was done) so please be sure to check it out!

 

Amazon link

New Year's Eve fireworks in Las Vegas

Hard to believe it is time to ring in the New Year already.  Seems like it was just Labor Day earlier this week instead of Christmas.

Fireworks

 

But with 2014 racing to a close, it is time to list the places that will be having fireworks as part of the New Year's Eve celebration. Remember. the fireworks shows will be rooftop displays. Also, it is cold, down around freezing, this week in Las Vegas so please take warm clothes with you!

So without further ado, here the hotels that are participating:

Stratosphere Tower,
MGM Grand
Caesars Palace,
Planet Hollywood,
Treasure Island (TI) ,
The Venetian,
Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter complex.

The fireworks show will last 8 minutes and 23 seconds and consist of more than 80,000 fireworks explosions.  There will be music choreographed to hits including Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, Diamonds by Rihanna, and Feel this Moment by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera.

Downtown on Fremont Street, the Fremont Street Experience is offering over 9 hours of music from 12 different tribute bands.

5:00 p.m.– The Fremont Street Experience will be closed to the public
6:00 p.m.– The Fremont Street Experience gates open for ticketed guests with valid event wristbands.
Concert Time: 6:15pm - 3am
Tickets: $ $40 and can be purchased online, in-person at any of the Fremont Street Experience member hotel-casinos, or at the event gates on Dec. 31.

Performance by: 12 great rockin' out Tribute bands that include: Queen Nation, Led Zepagain, Rio (Duran,Duran), Generation Idol, No Duh (No Doubt), Red Not Chili Peppers, Doobies Inc., Jumpin Jack Flash, Aeromyth Crimes of Passion (Pat Benatar), Don't Look Back (Boston), & Bonfire (AC/DC).

Fremont Street New Year's Eve 2015 Light Show Schedule

6:00 PM LIGHT SHOW, 7:30 PM LIGHT SHOW, 9:00 PM LIGHT SHOW, 10:45 PM LIGHT SHOW, 1:00 AM LIGHT SHOW

And as always, The Las Vegas Strip will be closed to vehicle traffic starting at 6:00 p.m. on New Year's Eve until the wee hours of the morning.

Happy New Year!