Many of our readers probably watched their televisions anxiously New Year's Eve 1996 to see pictures from Las Vegas of hundreds of thousands of people watching the fantastic 8 minute fireworks display followed by the implosion of the Hacienda. Few were likely disappointed as the final flares faded, the hundreds of tiny explosions went off and the former building that was the Hacienda apparently collapsed like so many dominoes into a pile of rubble, and dust filled the air, covering the announcers and cameramen.
At that point most of the networks pulled away from the scene and switched to some other party location around the country. But lo, and behold, once the smoke and dust cleared, what did we see, but a significant portion of the resilient carcass of a building still standing! Apparently something had gone slightly amiss and the southern-most portion of the hotel on the Las Vegas strip remained triumphantly standing defying the attempts to flatten it. Local Las Vegas stations assured us later that evening that the demolition crews intended to have that pesky piece flattened by morning with a few ropes and a crane.
Although the casino and hotel property itself has been a part of Las Vegas since the mid 50's the main part of the building that was under attack was a mere seven to ten years old and reportedly had been intentionally "built to last". This was definitely a tribute to those dedicated builders.
Come next morning, January 1, 1997, the amusing scenes on this page emerged from the cloudy twilight. A whole stairwell, and a row or two of rooms and the end of the hotel still stood, relatively untouched, proudly displying the well known neon marquee.
By noon, the only slightly listing tower (the tilt a result of the original explosions) had thwarted all attempts at toppling it. Finally the contractors brought in the big guns and began smacking it with the large steel wrecking ball. Even these attempts were fruitless for the first hour or so. They knocked a few holes in the foundation and battered one of the uppermost floors attempting to topple the tower northward.
Finally, as if at the end of their patience, the workmen resorted to chopping at the bottom floors on the south side like one would to fell a large tree. This process managed slowly to dislodge larger and larger pieces of the standing structure. Finally, at just a few minutes after 2pm, a full seventeen hours after the first televised attempts, the remaining part of the 40 year old casino/hotel officially crumbled under the relentless pounding, to end another era in Las Vegas history.
Created: July 1, 1996.