Landmark Hotel – Las Vegas – 1974

The Landmark Hotel in Las Vegas circa 1974

If the Jetsons ever went to Las Vegas, certainly this must be where they stayed and played. They would’ve felt so at home because after all it looks like it came straight out of their ultra out-of-this-world universe.

Designed in the late fifties, the Landmark is by far the spaciest hotel ever built. Howard Hughes was the most famous name originally attached to the project. Ground breaking was celebrated in 1961 and construction was completed in 1963. But for mysterious reasons, the 31-story, 500-room flying saucer-style casino hotel didn’t open its doors for business for six years. In 1964, as it stood empty, it played a role as background scenery behind Elvis and Ann-Margaret in

I remember being mesmerized by the Landmark as a child. Other than seeing a chicken play the piano and a trapeze act at the Circus Circus, it’s the only thing I remember from my first trip to Las Vegas, which was the weekend before I started kindergarten in 1968. In 1983, when I returned as an adult, it was the first place I wanted to see. The Landmark was really run down and certainly wasn’t catering to the hippest crowd in town. Nobody I talked to there seemed to realize that the building was in any way unique or interesting. That is unfathomable to me.

Never really successful, over the years it passed through the hands of several owners. After years of decline, in 1990 the property was acquired by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the landmark Landmark closed. Unfortunately for us and future generations it never reached the legendary architectural status it deserved.

On Tuesday, November 7, 1995 came one of the darkest days in the history of mid-century modern architecture. At 5:35 am, using a mere 100 pounds of dynamite, The Landmark was blown-up to make room for a parking lot, yes, a parking lot. Actual footage of the implosion is in Tim Burrton’s

GOD BLESS AMERICANA and LAS VEGASANA

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15 Responses to “Landmark Hotel – Las Vegas – 1974”

  1. Mike Day says:

    I’ve heard it said that Las Vegas has no sense of it’s own heritage or history. Knocking down these iconic buildings proves it.

  2. Barb says:

    Dear Mr. Phoenix,
    Enjoy your website – thank you for the fun. Do you know the name of the restaurant that was located at the top of the Landmark Hotel? My husband and I had our wedding night dinner there in 1987 but have forgotten the name. Thank you for your help.
    Sincerely,
    Barb

  3. Marisa says:

    Having just spent last weekend in Vegas… Although we had a lovely view from our room, all the buildings are so large now you really can’t see much beyond what is right nearby… I miss the days of old when the scale of Vegas was still human… Can’t wait to see you Saturday!… I’ve been meaning to get to your show for years and finally am not working!…

  4. Don Bee says:

    Any pics, lauren b?

  5. lauren b says:

    I am fortunate to have a 3 quarter slot machine (three 7′s,fruit) from the Landmark Hotel. I bought it a few years before they blew up the Hotel. Anyone know how much its worth??

  6. Jerry Foisel says:

    George Foisel Jr. was a construction worker on The Landmark in 1963. Like most Vegans at the time… THE FASCINATION WITH THIS SPACE-AGE WONDER WAS LOST ON HIM (Dad was more at home in a cheap strip mall bar like Payless Liquor next to a 7/11 and one of his favorite hillbilly barber shops, “You still giving Butches LeRoy?”).
    Our Polish Maverick (Bob Stupak) either ASTOUNDED OR INSULTED Vegans with his version of The Landmark (“The Stupak Stump”).
    Stupak was treated like Rodney Dangerfield by old line hypocrites that were “offended” by Bob’s earthy character catering to “common people” (and not the so called, high rolling, bigshot WHALES that have proven to be bigshot cheats that even Steve Wynn had to have arrested and thrown in jail for skipping out on thier markers. IT’S A FOOLISH BELIEF AMONGST THE SUCKERS THAT YOU JUST HAVE TO LEAVE NEVADA TO GET OUT OF A GAMBLING DEBT).
    Before they put in security cameras to prevent it: I used to take dates up into the “private” REFUGE of the Stratosphere for VERY EXCLUSIVE PICNICS AT 1,000 FEET OVER THE STRIP (the Refuge is the first two floors of the bottom of the Stratosphere Saucer reserved as a fire refuge… NOT AN EXCLUSIVE RESTAURANT).
    Still haven’t dined in The Stratosphere’s REVOLVING RESTAURANT but I do go back up on the Fourth of July… TO WATCH THE FIREWORKS – BELOW!!!

  7. Andy Windes says:

    My family moved to Las Vegas the same year this photo was taken–1974. I still remember the date, 2/16/74. As luck would have it, for the first six weeks or so that we were here, we lived at the old Ambassador Inn at the corner of Flamingo and Paradise. Every morning when I got up–just as the sun was rising and the lights were going down–I looked out the room window and saw the Landmark. It was quite an awe inspiring sight for a ten year-old. The government was paying a per diem until we got our own house and so we ate out at all the best restaurants the town had. Almost all of those places are gone. The Dunes, Sands, Castaways, Stardust, etc., all gone. After much begging, we went to a Sunday brunch at the Landmark, which was held in the upper “saucer” section of the hotel. The ride to the top in the glass elevator provided a great view. The hotel was only five years old at the time and had not fallen in to the disrepair that would plague it in later years. In any event, I was very sad when the decision was made to blow up the place in the mid-90′s, but nothing is sacred in Las Vegas. The town had a certain class in those days that it lacks now, and I know many a long-time local who would gladly turn back the clock.

  8. Doug in Belize says:

    I wish I would have had the money to buy this beautiful building and make it my private home. It should have never been destroyed and kept as a shrine to the great Howard Hughes.

  9. Ian Wolfram says:

    My parents owned this hotel in the late 70s-early 80s. It was a marvel. It was difficult to attract customers with the explosion of newer hotels over on the strip, but there were plans to expand this hotel and make it truly monumental…unfortunately this never worked out and the hotel was sold in 1983. I miss the pool (shaped like a whale with a bar in the center) and the view. I have many unique memories and items from the Landmark. Thanks for the slides and the kind words.

    ian

  10. I spent my early days of High School watching an amazing architect complete the construction plans for the visionary Landmark Tower and I accompanied him on several pre-construction and construction trips to Las Vegas.
    Through the following decades I visited the Landmark Hotel & Casino many times – a couple with that architect, my Dad – John W. Jamieson of Tustin California.

  11. Suzanne Hudson says:

    I lived in Las Vegas as a child in the early 1960′s and remember the Landmark well. I danced in the disco on the rotating floor at the top in 1983 with friends, and ate in the resteraunt on same rotating floor on July 4th 1976. I do miss seeing that distinctive saucer shape at the top of the tower!

  12. james mckinney says:

    Yes indeed, for those people aware enough, and lucky enough to have actually entered the dying property, as it sat like a d list norma desmond alone and abandoned near the end. A fabuolous 50′s jet age modernism was on full glorious display. The ghost of the landmark peers down from casino heaven today fully vindicated and triumphant, as armys of fashionably clad hipsters try to replicate her underapreciated swingin vibe.

  13. Otto Partz says:

    Nice feature, so sad to see this amazing building go.
    I saw it from afar in the early 90s but it was pretty run down.

    Click on my name to see the retro Landmark t-shirts I made.

  14. Trina Escartin says:

    Dear Charles, This place was awesome, I had my first “Real” (and legal) Vegas cocktail in the top floor lounge of the Landmark! Back in 1974, my grandmother bought me a souvenier charm bracelet made out of pewter and one of the charms if a mini-Landmark hotel. I still have that bracelet and wear it proudly!!
    Viva Las Vegas.

  15. vince hatty says:

    If you watch viva las vegas they have a cool shot of the landmark
    if you just take your eyes off ann margaret’s legs for a second.

    chuck, you’re the greatest.

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