Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 | 2 a.m.
They sparkle, flash and light up the Las Vegas Strip in a rainbow of colors, beckoning gamblers to come in, relax and try their luck at the tables or with the one-armed bandit.
The massive casino signs along the Strip and in downtown Las Vegas are some of the most recognizable in the world. Even those long gone are etched in the collective memories of millions who have visited the city over the years.
Sometimes it’s just the sign that is gone, like the pirate’s skull marquee at Treasure Island, rebranded as the TI, or the massive Las Vegas Hilton sign, scuttled after the property was renamed LVH — Las Vegas Hotel.
In other cases, the building is gone, too, as in the case of the old Stardust or iconic Vegas properties like the Dunes and Sands.
Some of the old signs have been preserved at the Neon Museum Boneyard, which contains more than 150 donated and rescued signs from casinos and other businesses. The signs date from the late 1930s through the early 1990s.
Here is a look at some classic Las Vegas signs that are no longer part of the electrified landscape.
The Las Vegas Hilton
The Las Vegas Hilton changed its name this year to LVH — Las Vegas Hotel & Casino after losing its rights to use its longtime time from trademark owner Hilton Worldwide. The property announced the change on its website with the slogan: “Same fame. New name." The casino, on Paradise Road behind the Las Vegas Strip, has been open since 1971.
Steve Wynn opened the $450 million pirate-themed Treasure Island in 1993 next to The Mirage. But in 2003, the resort changed to focus more on adult entertainment, and one of the things sacrificed in the makeover was the famous skull-and-crossbones sign. It was replaced with one that simply read “ti,” which the resort still goes by.
When the Stardust opened in 1958, it was the largest resort hotel in the world and Nevada’s biggest casino. In the 1970s and 80s, it was run by Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, a reputed associate of Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the Chicago mob’s main man in Las Vegas. The casino closed in 2006 and was imploded.
The 200-room Dunes opened on the Las Vegas Strip in 1955 and closed in 1993 to make room for the Bellagio. At one time, a 35-foot-tall sultan statue straddled the Dunes’ main entrance, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1985.
The Sands opened on Dec. 15, 1952, and was the seventh casino to open on the Strip. The Sands was most famous as the home of the Rat Pack, and its Copa Room hosted many legendary performances. The hotel was imploded on Nov. 26, 1996, to make way for The Venetian.
The El Rancho — not to be confused with the earlier El Rancho Vegas — opened on the Strip in 1982 but never gained serious popularity. The casino closed in 1992, but the building sat vacant for years. After the casino closed, the sign announced the site was the “future home of Countryland,” but plans for that project never came to fruition and the El Rancho was imploded Oct. 3, 2000.
The Silver Slipper
The Silver Slipper opened in 1950 on the grounds of what would become the New Frontier — also since demolished — and closed in 1988. The casino featured a rotating, blinking silver slipper. It’s legend that Howard Hughes bought the property because the toe faced his penthouse at the now-gone Desert Inn and he feared it might have had a camera in it.