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In 1946, the small city of Las Vegas was changed forever - that's when mobster Bugsy Siegal and his partner Meyer Lansky built the Pink Flamingo Hotel & Casino. Not that there weren't other casinos in the city already - there were - just nothing on the scale of the Flamingo. At the time, it looked a lot like the postcard at the top of this page. There were under 100 rooms, although for the time it was very plush.

These photos are from the current garden area of the hotel/casino grounds, which also happen to be where the original Pink Flamingo building was located. The final wall was torn down in 1993, leaving nothing but the new portion of the hotel. Not to take away from that - the hotel is luxurious, has many upscale restaurants, and a casino floor that's easy to navigate (as opposed to some of massive behemoths such as MGM, where it takes half an hour to get from one end to the other). The hotel has a very relaxed feeling, and is a great place to spend some time when you're in Las Vegas.

Once the original Flamingo was torn down and replaced with the wandering paths of the garden, stories started surfacing about a spectral presence there. When the sun starts setting and the shadows get long, some people say that a ghost of a man makes an occasional appearance - and a few even think that it is the spirit of Bugsy Siegal.

Could it be? Who knows. He put his heart and soul into building the Flamingo, but he was murdered in Beverly Hills, California. There are theories about spirits settling in places that were dear to them in life, so it could be the case. Perhaps it is haunted by a person killed on the property during the gangster years, though. No matter what, while we were there we didn't see or feel anything unusual.

In the garden, there is a solitary tribute to Bugsy on a plaque:

"On this site, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel's original Flamingo Hotel stood from December 26, 1946 until December 14, 1993.

The hotel, which housed 77 rooms, including the notorious Mr. Siegel's "Bugsy Suite," or "Presidential Suite," as it was sometimes referred to, was unique in more ways than one. The windowpanes, for instance, were bullet proof. And, although there was only one entrance to the top-floor suite, there were five possible exits. This included a hidden ladder leading from the hallway closet to a basement tunnel, which led to an underground garage, where Bugsy allegedly had a chauffeured getaway car awaiting at all times.

But Mr. Siegel's preoccupation with safety and escape routes proved to be geographically misplaced. On June 20, 1947, 300 miles from Las Vegas, at the Beverly Hills mansion of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill, Bugsy was killed in a hail of gunfire by unknown assailants.

Since that day, the Flamingo has changed ownership 3 times, including its final sale from Kirk Kerkorian to the Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1970."

The October 1999 issue of Casino Magazine reported that dozens of people have seen "Bugsy's ghost" in the Presidential Suite of the old Flamingo, and since it was torn down the spirit has moved to the penthouse Presidential Suite of the new hotel. Still others have reportedly seen the spectre wandering the twisting paths of the gardens at the site of Bugsy's original dream - the Pink Flamingo.

We explored the gardens extensively, and had a great time. In fact, while we didn't stay at the Flamingo on this trip, we may very well be there on our next! The gardens were beautiful and relaxing, with lots of waterfalls and foliage... spirits? Not that we saw, but who knows what happens when night falls in the gardens...

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