The New Frontier Gambling

So much has happened with regard to the New Frontiersmen's history of gambling.

On the evening of April 4, 1955, the owners of the Last Frontier Hotel turned their backs on the bygone era of old West nostalgia, and opened their doors to the age of the future.

As they closed up the casino of the original hotel, they directed patrons around the corner and up the Strip to the entrance of a recently completed addition called the New Frontier.

Like the updated name, the new annex could hardly have expressed better the mood of Americans in mid-century Las Vegas.

Instead of the old West style that prevailed at the Last Frontier, opening-night crowds now encountered modern luxuries couched in the most futuristic designs in the resort city.

A switch in hotel slogans, from 'The Old West in Modern Splendor' to 'Out of this World', summarized the changed outlook and announced the space-age decor.

Inside the New Frontier, the ranch-style design of the original edifice, complete with bar stools shaped like saddles, walls studded with trophy heads, and dealers clothed in cowboy outfits, had given way to ornamentation that combined plush luxury with the wonders of tomorrow.

Originally laid out in the design of an old West fort, the hotel suddenly epitomized the civilization of the new West.

A cocktail lounge called the Cloud Nine, walled with three-dimensional murals showing celestial bodies, superseded the Gay Nineties Bar of the Last Frontier, which had been decorated like an old Western saloon.

The Planet dining hall supplanted the Ramona Room, a restaurant with walls of intricate Zuni stonework, and the new Venus dinner-theater contained a revolving stage atop a hydraulic orchestra lift.

The old lobby, complete with double fireplace and western gift shop, had combined stone blocks, wood paneling, and split logs in its decor.

The new entrance featured shiny floors of Italian marble, lengthy sofas of pink and white leather, and a picture of 'six little men from outer space making a bee line' for he gambling tables.

The deep-pile, lilac-colored carpets covering the new casino floors matched walls painted in rich violet and magenta.

The ceilings, once made of rough-hewn wood, were now red and pink, and from them, instead of low wooden beams and wagon wheels, hung flying saucers, spinning planets, and chandeliers shaped like creatures from another galaxy.

Finally, although the hotel had originally relied heavily on its Western Americana museum and Last Frontier Village to interest tourists, in 1955 it employed such entertainers as Ted Lewis, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Liberace to attract visitors.

By the mid-1950s, the population of the city proper had reached 50,000, while close to 100,000 people resided in the metropolitan area of Clark County.

Eight million tourists spent $160 million in Las Vegas during 1956, demonstrating its nationwide popularity and providing the economic underpinnings so essential to its runaway growth.

The dynamism of rapid expansion sprang not from Glitter Gulch, where decorators still enshrined the old West, but from the Strip, which stretched toward the future because it led to Los Angeles.