The Sands Hotel and Casino
The Sands' neon road sign.
Backstory and Context
In the 1940s, Jake Freedman, an oil baron from Texas, wanted to open a resort on the Las Vegas Strip that would attract high rollers and other glamorous patrons. In order to bring about this vision, Freedman hired Wayne McAllister, who had also designed the El Rancho Vegas, to design it. One of the most distinctive features of the Sands was its road sign, which boasted a more modern design and font instead of a more traditional Las Vegas neon sign. Construction on the Sands began out of the building for a certain restaurant, the La Rue, and it opened in 1952. The Sands brought in performers such as Frank Sinatra and the members of what would become the Rat Pack just before the opening of the resort, and with them came the high rollers and Hollywood types that Freedman had desired to bring in.
Several notable events occurred in the Sands during the late 1950s and the early 1960s, such as the filming of Ocean’s 11, but arguably more important was that the Sands was the first casino to have an African American gamble in it. John F. Kennedy would also occasionally visit Frank Sinatra at the resort. Renovations and additions were made in the mid-1960s, and it remained popular well into the late 1980s. The Sands could not keep pace with the competing resorts on the Strip, however, and it closed in June of 1996. Soon after, the Sands was imploded in late November of 1996.