Downtown’s “new” casino, The D, is replacing Fitzgeralds, but does the building itself qualify as “old Vegas”?

Absolutely—both by date (1979, 10 years before The Mirage ushered in “new Vegas”) and ownership history (it was built by the Stardust’s Al Sachs and “known associate” and local luminary Moe Dalitz). The two owned the Sundance until 1987, when Reno’s Lincoln Management bought the hotel and rebranded it as Fitzgeralds. When it opened, the “office tower”-style Sundance was, at 400 feet and 34 stories, the tallest building in Nevada, surpassing Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort. In 1995, Reno again took the lead—by a mere 10 feet—with the Silver Legacy Resort. Vegas blew by the Silver Legacy in 1996 with the Stratosphere observation tower (not technically a “building” at 1,149 feet) and in 1997 with New York-New York (529 feet).

Tower heights can be a proxy for personal competition among moguls. In the mid-2000s, Steve Wynn and Donald Trump briefly battled with Wynn (2005, 614 feet), Trump Tower (2008, 622 feet), and Encore (2008, 631 feet). All was moot, however, since Sheldon Adelson’s Palazzo had already left them fighting for second place with his 642-foot Palazzo (2007). The Palazzo remains the state’s tallest operational building, though the Fontainebleau could eventually surpass it by 93 feet.

In the 1970s, I passed a remote casino that displayed the Bonnie and Clyde “death car.” Where was that?

You are thinking of “Pop’s” Oasis, a casino in Jean, from 1947 until 1988. The Oasis was built and operated by Peter “Pop” Simon, a pioneer who also owned various mines and supply stores in Southern Nevada. Pop died in 1963, but his family continued to operate the Oasis. They obtained the Bonnie and Clyde death car—a 1934 Ford Deluxe sedan in which the notorious gangsters were ultimately gunned down—in the early 1970s to draw in passing Vegas road trippers from I-15.

In 1987, Jean was boosted by the opening of the Vegas-style Gold Strike (the Simons were financially involved); the Oasis closed a year later. The car went down the road to Whiskey Pete’s in Primm. In 2007, the Herbst family purchased the Primm properties and sent the car to Terrible’s Gold Ranch in Reno. In 2011, Bonnie and Clyde’s wheels returned to Whiskey Pete’s, though not promoted with nearly as much roadside bravado as in Simon’s day.

Correction: Due to an editing error, the original location of Jazzed Café was misstated in last week’s Ask a Native. The popular 1990s night spot was on East Tropicana Avenue; a larger location later opened on West Sahara.

Suggested Next Read

The Crooning Counselor

Character Study

The Crooning Counselor

By Jerry Fink

Attorney Nikolas Mastrangelo, 64, grew up in Detroit and often found himself on street corners singing harmony with his childhood friends. But then what self-respecting Motor City boy didn’t in those days of doo-wop, be-bop and rock? It never crossed his mind that music was in his future. “I came from a typical Italian family: It was ‘Go get your education and start a career,’” says Mastrangelo, nattily dressed as always in a shirt and tie—an appropriate getup not only for his evening gig as an elegant crooner, but for his day job as an attorney.