The Architecture of Excess: Caesars Palace at 50

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By Heather Corcoran
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Take a trip back to midcentury glamour as the Las Vegas icon celebrates a half-century this summer.

The architectural history of Las Vegas is among the most idiosyncratic in the world. If the Gold-Rush-town-turned-tourist-destination is know for anything design-wise, it's the ersatz and anachronistic themed destinations that line the famous Strip. Perhaps most famous among them is Caesars Palace, an ode to ancient Rome that made its Las Vegas debut on August 5, 1966. 

A Caesars Palace employee poses by the themed marquee, created by Ad-Art based on a design by the famous Young Electric Sign Design Company, prior to the hotel's grand opening.

A Caesars Palace employee poses by the themed marquee, created by Ad-Art based on a design by the famous Young Electric Sign Design Company, prior to the hotel's grand opening.

The resort was one of the first to tap into the theme concept, today a mainstay of the city. According to PBS, Caesars's founder, developer Jay Sarno said: "I'm going to design a casino with lots of columns and statues and fountains and tons of marble." 

The main casino at Caesars Palace, 1966.

The main casino at Caesars Palace, 1966.

He did just that. His complex boasted an oval casino of his own design, surrounded by 20 black columns trimmed in white marble and gold leaf; a 20-foot-tall statue of Julius Caesar; a 141-foot fountain that even Evel Knievel himself failed to jump; and more than 8,000 pieces of marble. 

The valet and porte-cochère of Caesars Palace , 1966.

The valet and porte-cochère of Caesars Palace , 1966.

Since then, the hotel has grown up with the Strip around it, as Vegas visitors demand ever-greater thrills. And thanks in part to a new $1 billion investment, the casino resort continues to enjoy a much happier history than the emperor with the same name. 

A view of the opening-night banquet, August 5, 1966. 

A view of the opening-night banquet, August 5, 1966. 

Caesars founder Jay Sarno enjoys a feast the the original Bacchanal restaurant, 1967.

Caesars founder Jay Sarno enjoys a feast the the original Bacchanal restaurant, 1967.

An ariel view of Caesars Palace and the Gardens of the Gods pool oasis, circa 1970.

An ariel view of Caesars Palace and the Gardens of the Gods pool oasis, circa 1970.

The pool at Caesars, circa 1970.

The pool at Caesars, circa 1970.

Cover photo by the Las Vegas News Bureau.