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c. 1955

A trip to 1955 Las Vegas

It was a boom year for the gambling hub. Five new hotels opened, and more were beginning construction.

View of the illuminated sign of casinos and hotels along Fremont Street, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1955. Visible are signs for the Golden Nugget, the Lucky Strike Club, the Pioneer Club (the huge neon cowboy named 'Vegas Vic'), the Las Vegas Club, the Boulder Club, and the Hotel Apache, among others. (Photo by Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Welcome to 1955, and welcome to Las Vegas.  We are here as guests of photographer Loomis Dean, of LIFE magazine.

Now prepare for a shock.

1955 was the year that the Moulin Rouge, the first interracial hotel in Las Vegas, opened its desegregated doors.  Prior to this, black and white gamblers were forced to stay in separate locations.

Prior to this, black and white gamblers were forced to stay in separate locations.

And yet, in the original article for which Loomis Dean was shooting, the opening of the Moulin Rouge was merely of passing notice.

Because 1955 had been a boom year. 

Five new hotels had opened, and more began to be constructed. There was talk that Vegas was over-extending itself – some of the new hotels seemed depleted, gamblers thin on the ground.

The answer? More gamblers required – and so continued the metaphorical arms-race of ever-more vibrant neon and glitter adorning every Vegas surface.

A metaphor. Yet not 100 miles away, the actual arms-race was being acted out, at the AEC testing site for Atomic bombs…

1955
A woman playing the slots at Glittering Gulch Casino
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Riviera J. Brown’s Horse Shoe at Glitter Gulch
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Musicians perform at the Riviera Casino Bar
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Bingo at the Showboat casino
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Dunes Casino dice table being cleaned up by a worker
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Vegas neon
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Chorus showgirls performing at the Dunes Nightclub
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Showgirls at the Sahara Nightclub
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Showgirls performing at the Dunes Nightclub
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Showgirls stand in the wings at the Royal Nevada Hotel. One leans against a portable slot machine.
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Woman playing slots at Glittering Gulch Casino.
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images
1955
Swimmers look through underwater portholes in a pool at an unidentified hotel
Loomis Dean / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images

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