The Landmark Hotel and Casino

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The Landmark Hotel and Casino
Landmark hotel 1986.jpg
The Landmark in 1986
Location Las Vegas, NV 89109
Address 364 Convention Center Drive
Opening date July 1, 1969
Closing date August 8, 1990; 26 years ago (August 8, 1990)
No. of rooms 525
Casino type Land
Owner 1960-1967: Frank Caroll
1967-1978: Howard Hughes
1978-1983: Ted & Zula Wolfram
1983-1990: William Morris
Architect Edward Hendricks
Martin Stern Jr. (renovation)
Renovated in 1984

The Landmark Tower was a hotel and casino located in Paradise, Nevada. The Landmark opened on July 1, 1969,[1] and closed on August 8, 1990. Today, the property which once housed the Landmark is a 2,948 space parking lot for the Las Vegas Convention Center.[2]

The Landmark played host to famous celebrities such as Danny Thomas, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Freddy Fender's first appearance.[3] With just 525 rooms, the Landmark was small in comparison to the newer Las Vegas megaresorts.


Development and construction[edit]

In 1961, Frank Caroll purchased 22 acres (8.9 ha) the lot at the corner of Convention Center Drive and Paradise Road in Paradise, Nevada.[4]

With a $3 million loan from the Appliance Buyers Credit Corporation, Caroll and his group hired John W. Jamieson of Tustin, California to design the tower. Edward Hendricks of Los Angeles was contracted to oversee the tower construction. Construction of the steel reinforced concrete tower, using a patented method of concrete slip forming, was directed by the San Francisco office of MacDonald Engineering, of Chicago.[citation needed] The original plan was to build a 15-story tower,[4] the tallest in Nevada at that time.[citation needed] This was increased to 31 stories,[4] when The Mint Hotel downtown decided to add more floors to its tower to claim the height record. In the end, the title went to Landmark.[citation needed]

In December 1962, Caroll ran out of funding to complete the project. His creditors refused to lend him additional money to complete the tower and work halted. The tower sat 80% complete, just an empty shell.[4]

In 1966, after four years of dormancy, the Teamsters Union Pension Fund awarded Caroll $5.5 million to complete the Landmark. Work resumed and the tower was completed by early 1967. Landmark announced the opening of its main showroom and lounges on New Year's Eve, 1967 but due to lack of funding it did not open on time.[4]

The Carolls expected to have the hotel open in April 1968, however a February edition of the Las Vegas Review Journal noted that the hotel had yet to apply for a gaming license.

Hughes and opening (1969)[edit]

The Landmark as it looked in the 1980s (This photo was taken in 1995 and was modified by Landmark historian Marc Wagner to depict its operational look)

On January 17, 1969, reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes purchased the Landmark and agreed to pay off the nearly three dozen creditors and contractors Frank Carroll owed money to. Unlike Hughes' other Las Vegas hotels, Landmark had yet to be opened. This allowed Hughes to make all the design decisions from room decor to employee uniforms.

After eight years in the construction phase, The Landmark Hotel & Casino opened on July 1, 1969[4] with a celebration of 500 invited guests and Danny Thomas headlining the main showroom. Many top performers, such as Liberace, George Burns, Pat Cooper, and Phyllis Diller have performed at the hotel. Having top performers at the Landmark did not continue, as the Landmark was not a high profit venture.

Throughout the 1970s, continuing financial troubles and bad publicity plagued Landmark. In 1970 Hughes fled Las Vegas, leaving control of his hotels to his company, Summa Corp. Landmark reported a loss of $5.9 million that year. In 1974, William G. Bennett and William Pennington made an offer to buy the Landmark, but every time they came close to a deal, Hughes raised the price.[citation needed] They bought Circus Circus instead. On July 15, 1977, Carbon monoxide gas leaked into the hotel's air conditioning system killing 1 guest and injuring 138 others. This also caused a power failure and was found to be the result of flooding[5] in the sub-basement.[6]

By the late 1970s, The Landmark was in major financial trouble. Summa Corp. began selling off its hotel properties, and the Landmark was at the top of the list. Ted and Zula Wolfram of Grand Rapids, Ohio purchased the Landmark from Summa Corp. They had little success in turning the troubled hotel around. In 1983, Ted Wolfram was convicted of embezzling $47 million from his Toledo brokerage firm, Bell & Beckwith. The Landmark was seized and put up for sale. In 1983, William Morris - a Las Vegas native - purchased the hotel with plans to breathe life back into it. He used "junk bonds" from Wall Street to finance a major renovation. During an extensive exterior renovation, new red stripes were added along the windows running up the tower and the roof was painted red to match. The entrance had red-lit outriggers added and a new side entrance was added to the casino. Although these were nice visual additions,[citation needed] the rooms remained untouched which contributed to the hotel's eventual downfall.[citation needed] The hotel was renamed "The NEW Landmark".[7]

Closure and demolition[edit]

Even though the hotel failed to bring in much profit, it made enough to remain open throughout the 1980s, but with the opening of the city's first mega-resort, The Mirage, in 1989, The Landmark's fate was sealed. Without the money necessary to renovate the rooms and certainly not enough to pay the creditors, The Landmark closed its doors in August 1990. In June 1991, the hotel's contents were liquidated via an on-site, public sale conducted by NCL/National Content Liquidators, Inc. The hotel sat empty for 2 years until, in 1993, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (which owns the Las Vegas Convention Center across the street) bought the Landmark for $16.7 million. A year-long debate followed within the L.V.C.V.A. about the fate of the aged and run-down hotel. Some wanted to make the necessary repairs and re-open it to house convention attendees. Others wanted to demolish the buildings to add 2,000[3] much-needed parking spaces for the Convention Center. In the end, after much protest, it was decided that the Landmark would be demolished after only three of the fourteen LVCVA board members voted to save the building.[8]

In mid-1994, AB-Haz Environmental began removing asbestos insulation from the Landmark. The company was cited for violating air emission standards during the removal. AB-Haz signed a settlement in which the company agreed to pay an $18,000 fine.[9] In early 1995, Maryland-based Controlled Demolition, Inc. and California-based Iconco Inc., began clearing the property and prepping the tower with 100 pounds of explosives.[3] The casino, shops, and room wings were cleared away leaving only the gutted tower.[citation needed] At 5:35AM on November 7, 1995,[3] the Landmark was demolished in 17 seconds. The demolition was filmed and used in Mars Attacks!.[10] Today, the property which once housed the Landmark is a 2,000 space parking lot for the Las Vegas Convention Center.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

The external elevators were used in the filming of a scene in Diamonds Are Forever.

The Landmark's parking foyer was used during filming of Martin Scorsese's Casino starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Sharon Stone.

An empty Landmark can be seen in the early garage scene in Viva Las Vegas.

The Landmark had recurring roles in both Vega$ and Crime Story

While buildings are usually gutted to prepare for demolition, electrical wiring and lights were allowed to remain. As part of the movie's special effects, the lights in The Landmark were on before and during the implosion. The implosion of The Landmark was used in the film Mars Attacks!, and in the closing credits of The Cooler.

In Mars Attacks!, the Landmark Hotel was shown under the name "Galaxy Hotel". Pyrotechnics set off at the base of the Landmark were part of the special effects for this movie, which called for a UFO's laser shooting the base and collapsing it.

The Cooler was the last commercial appearance of the Landmark.


  1. ^ Adventures of the Landmark Hotel
  2. ^ "LVCC Gold Lot - Parking Lot". 
  3. ^ a b c d Buntain, Rex (November 7, 1995). "Landmark Falls". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Landmark Implosion". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  5. ^ "The Las Vegas flood restoration project". UAC water and restoration group. 2007-05-13. 
  6. ^ Las Vegas Sun - July 16, 1977
  7. ^ UNLV Leid Library > Archives > Collections > Martin Stern Jr. > Box 2 > Brochure 334b
  8. ^ Review-Journal, Norm Clarke Las Vegas (7 November 2015). "Hunt Bono recalls Landmark opening, implosion". Las Vegas Review-Journal. 
  9. ^ Las Vegas Sun newspaper -
  10. ^ "In Depth: Bringing Down the Harmon". Vegas Magazine. 

External links[edit]