The Thunderbird (1948-2000)
The Thunderbird before its demolition in 2000
Backstory and Context
In 1946, Cliff Jones and Marion Hicks worked together to invest in a plot of land on which they planned to build a lavish casino. Construction did not start until 1947, however, and the Thunderbird finally opened on September 2nd, 1948. At this point in time, Hicks was the only man in Las Vegas to own two resort hotels, the other of which was his resort “El Cortez.” To better fit the Native-American theme of the casino, the Thunderbird was built using materials that were native to the region. Additionally, it also sported a large figure of a Thunderbird on top of a tower. The Thunderbird quickly gained popularity amongst locals and tourists alike: so much so that it was overbooked in 1952, prompting Jones and Hicks to build a companion hotel, the Algiers, to help with the overflow of guests.
the addition of the Algiers, the Thunderbird underwent several additions in
1954 and 1955, such as the addition of the Terrace Room, which included a dance
floor, as well as a movie broadcasting system. In the following decades, the
Thunderbird was sold several times: once in 1964, once in 1972, and a final
time in 1977, after which it was renamed the Silverbird. The Silverbird did not
last long, however, as it was sold in 1981 and changed to El Rancho. El Rancho
closed after only a decade of service and was slated for demolition. The
building was imploded on October 3rd, 2000 to make way for a new casino/hotel
resort. As of right now, where the El Rancho, and previously the Thunderbird,
sat, is a currently unfinished building. The Drew Las Vegas Casino, formerly
known as Fontainebleau Las Vegas, is slated to open in 2020.
History of the Thunderbird. Las Vegas Online Entertainment Guide. n d. November 6, 2018. https://www.lvol.com/hotels/history/h-thunderbird.html.