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The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino’s expansion and remodel bring the 106-year-old resort to the forefront of the rebirth of downtown.
To say that a lot has changed in downtown Las Vegas since Hotel Nevada first opened its doors in 1906 would be a major understatement.
For a little perspective, consider that telephone service was another year from reaching the desert burg, Fremont Street wasn’t paved (that would come nearly two decades later), the local newspaper called the hotel’s 10-foot-by-10-foot, non-air-conditioned rooms “first class” and “as comfortable…as can be found anywhere,” and $1 provided guests of Hotel Nevada—known as the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino today—room and board for a night.
As remarkable as the changes Las Vegas has seen in 106 years are, the changes the property itself has undergone are every bit as extraordinary. From its early days as the two-story Hotel Nevada to a stint as Sal Sagev (Las Vegas spelled backwards) following the 1931 legalization of gambling in Nevada, and from a Rat Pack hangout to its current place at the forefront of downtown Las Vegas’ revitalization, the Golden Gate is a lasting embodiment of the ever-evolving city. “When it opened in 1906, Golden Gate signaled the birth of downtown Las Vegas,” says co-owner and CEO Derek Stevens. “Now, more than a century later, we’re proud to be a vibrant part of [downtown’s] dramatic renaissance.”
The latest changes at Las Vegas’ original hotel-casino, set for completion by the time this issue hits newsstands, aspire to provide a contemporary new look while maintaining the same vintage vibe. What guests will readily notice about the resort’s first major expansion in almost 50 years are the preserved historic exterior with new pinstripe lighting accents and the new five-story luxury tower, which includes 14 hotel suites and two penthouses that comprise the entire fifth floor.
Downstairs, an expanded casino floor features a new high-limit gaming area and the resort’s signature Dancing Dealers, a modern throwback to the brash and beautiful flappers of the Roaring ’20s.
The Golden Gate’s new lobby is decorated with artifacts from its storied past, including a registration book from 1907 and an antique Kellogg telephone. A new lobby-adjacent porte-cochère—or carriage porch—promises to provide the “most convenient valet parking [in] downtown [Las Vegas].”
The existing 106 boutique-hotel rooms at Golden Gate have also received facelifts and offer modern amenities—such as pillow-top mattresses, flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, and Keurig coffee makers—while maintaining a vintage Vegas ambiance. “This property has been characterized by a unique excitement and mystique from day one,” Stevens says. “And we can’t wait to start the next chapter in this wonderful Las Vegas story.”
106 YEARS ON FREMONT STREET
Hotel Nevada opens at the corner of Fremont and 4th Streets.
The first telephone in Las Vegas is installed at Hotel Nevada.
Hotel Nevada puts away its roulette and poker tables when gambling is outlawed in Nevada.
Fremont Street is paved.
Hotel Nevada installs an outdoor electric sign on Fremont Street.
Gambling is legalized in Nevada, and Hotel Nevada expands and changes its name to Sal Sagev (Las Vegas spelled backwards).
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge (the casino’s namesake landmark) opens to traffic.
A group of Bay Area investors purchases Sal Sagev and changes its name to Golden Gate Casino.
The hotel portion is expanded, and a metal screen façade is built to conceal the historical exterior.
The Golden Gate is restored to its original appearance.
The Fremont Street Experience opens, transforming old Las Vegas into an “urban theater.”
LAS VEGAS’ ORIGINAL
In 1959, the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino’s Shrimp Bar & Deli introduced shrimp cocktails for 50 cents each, and the bargain-priced snacks soon became a Las Vegas staple. Golden Gate has served more than 40 million to date and has managed to keep the price low ($2.99 today) because the staggering volume served—about a ton of shrimp a week—gives the modestly sized property the buying power of its mega-resort counterparts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Golden Gate Hotel & Casino
1 Fremont St.,
Las Vegas, NV 89101