El Cortez Hotel and Casino through the years: Historic facts revealed

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El Cortez exterior, day._1478055464721

12/22/1992 El Cortez exterior, El Cortez Credit: Las Vegas News Bureau

A Las Vegas icon celebrated a landmark anniversary Tuesday, Nov. 1.  The historic El Cortez Hotel and Casino turned 75 years old.

However, the celebration of the landmark was about more than the diamond anniversary.  The El Cortez is the longest continuously running hotel in Las Vegas.

During the ceremony, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman proclaimed Nov. 1 as El Cortez Hotel and Casino Day.

Here are some of the historical events that took place at the hotel through out the years:

1941: El Cortez Hotel & Casino officially opened with a casino, restaurant, café, floor show and 59 rooms. The “Vintage Rooms” are still open and available to hotel guests looking for an authentic and historic experience.

1945: Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Gus Greenbaum and Moe Sedway bought the property from Marion Hicks and J. Kell Houssels for $600,000.

Late 1940s: Hicks and Houssels regained ownership of the El Cortez.

1963: Jackie Gaughan purchases El Cortez for $4 million. Fifty rooms were added atop the new attached parking garage on 7th and Fremont.  Once the hotel’s tower was built in 1980, Jackie Gaughan lived in one of its penthouse suites until his death in 2014.  He was known to be on the casino floor almost daily – especially in the poker room playing with customers. A Las Vegas legend, Gaughan owned or had a stake in a number of other Las Vegas hotels including the Flamingo, Plaza, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas Club, Gold Spike, Western Hotel and Showboat.

1974: Gaughan purchases and remodels the Ogden House, a property across the street—adding these rooms to the El Cortez.

1975: Kenny Epstein becomes Jackie Gaughan’s partner in El Cortez.

1980: Gaughan and his son Jackie Gaughan Jr. add a 15-story, 200-room tower to El Cortez, costing around $10 million.

2007: El Cortez spends $32 million on renovations

2008: Kenny Epstein and Family purchase the El Cortez Hotel & Casino.

2009: The Ogden House is transformed into the El Cortez Cabana Suites, downtown’s first boutique hotel.

2011:  El Cortez partners with World Market Center to host Design a Suite Downtown – a contest for local designers to win a chance to design a suite in the El Cortez. Four finalists’ designs were built out, with the winning design outfitting the rest of the tower’s suites. These “Designer Suites” were open and available to hotel guests.

2013: El Cortez is placed on the National Register of Historic Places—the only operating casino to be included.

2015: Siegel’s 1941 opens, offering some of the city’s best food 24 hours a day. Particularly famous are the Meyer Lansky burger and the now-famous Matzo Ball Soup.

2016: El Cortez Hotel & Casino celebrates 75th anniversary, looking forward to another 75 successful years in business.
 

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