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LANDMARK HOTEL – LAS VEGAS – 1974

Landmark Hotel Las VegasIf 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.

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