After a rich history that spanned 61 years, Tuesday at 3am The Riviera Hotel and Casino’s tallest tower was imploded in a controlled demolition on the Las Vegas Strip bringing an end to one of Sin City’s last remaining relics of its storied past.
The demolition of the 24-story Monaco Tower at “The Riv” at 2901 Las Vegas Blvd joins the Dunes, which the north tower received the same sentence in 1993 when instead of demolishing hotels, the practice of implosion began, according to the Los Angeles Times. The New Frontier and the Stardust soon followed in 2007 when explosives were used to bring them tumbling to the ground.
At the time of its opening, it was the first of its kind, with its 9-story casino and 300 deluxe rooms, and was considered the place to be for high-rollers. First proposed as the Casa Blanca by William Bischoff, a Detroit mobster, the property received its gaming license in 1952. Miami businessman Samuel Cohen took over after Bischoff withdrew from the project. But Cohen was identified as a member of the S & G gambling syndicate in Miami and by 1955 and was no longer included in the investment group. At the Riviera’s star-studded debut on April 20, 1955, when Joan Crawford served as the official hostess and Liberace starred at The Clover Showroom, minority interests were held by Harpo and Gummo Marx, according to a2zlasvegas and Wikipedia. The Miami operators ran into financial trouble and in July of 1955, the casino went bankrupt. Ownership changed two times after The Riviera’s landlord, Gensbro Hotel Co., took over control in 1955 and in 1984 the Riviera filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority purchased The Riviera in February 2015 from Paragon Gaming for $191 million and it closed at noon on May 4, 2015. Over the years, The Riviera was used as a backdrop for movies such as the 1995 movie “Casino;” the James Bond film “Diamonds Are Forever;” and the original Rat Pack version of “Ocean’s 11” which debuted in 1960. The Riviera’s 26 acres is being cleared by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in order to make room for the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion. In August, the Monte Carlo Tower is scheduled to meet the same fate, as reported by the Associated Press.