Celebration of Vegas El Cortez Hotel/Casino on National Register of Historic Places

A fabulous celebration occurred Thursday, May 9th in front of the El Cortez Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  It was in honor of the property’s listing in the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the development of downtown Fremont Street in the 1940s when the area was the center of entertainment and gambling in Las Vegas.

The hotel’s juiciest bit of history is its brief ownership by mobsters Moe Sedway, Gus Greenbaum, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and Meyer Lansky in 1945 and 1946.

Plaque Ceremony in Front of El Cortez Hotel

Plaque ceremony in front of El Cortez Hotel/Casino.  Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is on the left, yours truly is speaking.

The hotel was erected in 1941 and remodeled in 1952.  It’s exterior has barely changed since then.  It remains the oldest casino under the same name in Las Vegas and the only operating casino on the National Register in the United States.  (See the Then & Now photos below)

Here’s a short snippet of the ceremony from the Las Vegas Review Journal: http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/las-vegas-history/video-place-honor-el-cortez

Unveiling the new plaque

Unveiling the plaque.  Pete Moruzzi and Alexandra Epstein, El Cortez VP and daughter of the current owner.  Two thumbs up!

I had the honor of writing the National Register nomination but it was the current owners, the Epstein family, who fully supported the idea of recognizing their property for its amazing history.

El Cortez 1945

El Cortez 1945

El Cortez 1960

El Cortez 1960

El Cortez 2012

El Cortez 2013

Pete and Lauren with El Cortez plaque

Lauren LeBaron and Pete Moruzzi and the new plaque.  Hooray!!!

About Peter Moruzzi

Author and historian Peter Moruzzi is passionate about the middle decades of the 20th century: its nightlife, classic dining, and architecture. Born in Concord, Massachusetts and raised in Hawaii, Moruzzi graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and later attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. In 1999, he founded the Palm Springs Modern Committee (PS ModCom) an architectural preservation group. He is the author of "Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground," "Palm Springs Holiday: A Vintage Tour From Palm Springs to the Salton Sea," "Classic Dining:Discovering America's Finest Mid-Century Restaurants," "Palm Springs Paradise: Vintage Photographs from America's Desert Playground," and "Greetings from Los Angeles." His latest pictorial history, "Greetings from Las Vegas" will be available in September, 2019.
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2 Responses to Celebration of Vegas El Cortez Hotel/Casino on National Register of Historic Places

  1. brt374 says:

    Looks like a great time was had by all. Wish I’d been there, but I was in Palm Springs!


  2. nmoruzzi says:

    Hooray! Congrats!!! Norma and Kaveh


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