Las Vegas History Series - The Stratosphere

Stratosphere Hotel & Casino

Saturday April 30, 2016 marked the 20 year anniversary for the most unique hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip, the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino.   
The Stratosphere was the brainchild of eccentric casino mogul Bob Stupak.  The Stratosphere was originally intended to be a tower similar appearance to the Eiffel Tower and only be an addition to his existing Vegas World Hotel and Casino; however the narrow footprint of the property would not allow the construction of such a broad based tower.  Bob Stupak then turned to an architectural firm with experience building radio towers but their designs were unsatisfactory to Stupak.  Stupak's Art Designer, Chuck Bernard, designed a concept for a tower which became the basis for the Stratosphere Hotel.  
The original design for the Stratosphere tower was nearly a thousand feet taller than it currently stands, 1,149 feet.  Bob Stupak wanted a tower to rival and exceed the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada (1,815 feet).  However the FAA objected to a tower of that height citing concerns about possible interference with flight patterns into and out of the nearby McCarran International Airport.  The designs for the tower were modified a number of times and with each modification the height of the tower shrank finally resulting bringing the tower to its current height of 1,149 feet.  Even at this reduced height the Stratosphere is still the highest freestanding observation tower in the United States and the second highest in the Western Hemisphere, it also has the distinction of being the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. 
During the construction of the Stratosphere tower a fire broke out at the top of the tower.  Witness to the fire often described the flames as "looking like a Roman Candle coming out of the top of the unfinished tower."  Luckily there were no injuries during the fire but the fire caused extensive damage and forced repairs and rebuilding to the damaged sections that led to numerous delays in the opening of the tower.
On April 30, 1996 the Stratosphere tower finally opened to great fanfare and misadventure.  During the massive fireworks display shot off from the top of the tower the smoke from the pyrotechnic display set off the sensitive fire alarms in the observation tower.  Some guests dressed in formal attire unsure of what to do and fearing a fire descended the 100 flights of stairs in the tower to reach the ground floor.  The fact that the emergency ventilation system worked exactly as designed and quickly cleared the tower of any smoke was little consolidation to those frightened guests who evacuated the building by the stairwell.
Shortly after the opening Stratosphere was forced into bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy Bob Stupak lost control of Stratosphere and the majority ownership was gained by Carl Icahn through one of his companies.  
With thrill rides at the top of the tower and a revolving restaurant, The Top of the World, in observation tower; the Stratosphere continues to reinvent and revitalize itself and has secured in its place as one of the premiere landmarks of the Las Vegas skyline.
Stratosphere Casino Chips

The Stratosphere Hotel & Casino is the only casino on the 'Strip' that is actually located in the City of Las Vegas.
Chips from the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino are a great addition to any collection of Las Vegas Casino Chips. 
'I Survived the High Roller Chip'
These souvenir chips were given to those who were brave, or crazy, enough to ride the High Roller roller- coaster at the top of the Stratosphere.  If you missed your chance while the High Roller was on the top of the Stratosphere you can still own one of these novelty chips.
Stratosphere Casino Cards
These decks are from the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino. They have the Stratosphere logo on them. These casino playing cards make for great additions to anybody's card collection and or can be used for your home gaming nights.
Stratosphere Silver Strike
This Silver Strike from the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino is a ideal addition for the Silver Strike collector or as a souvenir of the Las Vegas that was. This item can be purchased at our Ebay Store.
Gambling memorabiliaLas vegas historyStratosphere

1 comment

Jerry Fink

Jerry Fink

Nobody seems to acknowledge that the 1st working name of the Stratosphere Tower was the Vegas World Stratosphere tower. The exact date the name change was made is something I’m trying find to add to my history books. If anyone knows, I’d appreciate the info, but if you email me, be sure to make it clear that is what you are sending because I never open emails from unknown sources to avoid malware.

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