El Portal Theatre

310 Fremont Street,
Las Vegas, NV 89101

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El Portal Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The El Portal Theatre was built on the site of the old Las Vegas Airdome. It opened on June 21, 1928 with a pre-release screening of Clara Bow’s movie “Ladies of the Mob”.

It was the first building in Las Vegas to install air-conditioning. It was remodeled in 1961 to the plans of architect J. Maher Weller.

Closed in the late-1970’s, it became El Portal Gifts and now serves as an Indian Arts & Crafts store. Some of the decorative interior remains intact, mainly the ceiling beams.

Contributed by Scott Zimmerman

Recent comments (view all 37 comments)

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on January 10, 2015 at 1:09 am

Early `60’s photo added courtesy of the Hemmings Motor News Facebook page.

lvrepoman
lvrepoman on May 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm

The Rockford episode you guys have mentioned was titled, “Roundabout.” I was a 6th grader at the time it aired and was very excited to see places I recognized as locations. Particularly, a big portion of it was filmed at Wayne Newtons place, back when it was waayyy south of town. Other scenes were filmed on LV Blvd. around Stewart, at what I still call the “Manpower” building. There is another scene filmed around The Peppermill on the strip. Back in those days practically every cop show filmed a show in Las Vegas at least once. Kojak was here all the time. I can’t believe the El Portal showed “Dirty Harry” all those years without me knowing about it. I saw it when it first came out on the big screen in ‘71 (I was eight), and never saw it that way again till college. And it was playing right under my nose all the time!

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on October 24, 2015 at 10:58 pm

World Premiere of “Meet Me In Las Vegas” photos added. March 9th, 1956. Photo credit UNLV Libraries Digital Collections.

drifter
drifter on January 31, 2016 at 4:29 pm

heres a video clip taken 1957 of el portal at frank sinatras movie premiere of ‘the jokers wild’ you can make out some of the front entrance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAQa58bVaSs hope this works

CharlesR
CharlesR on July 19, 2016 at 1:52 am

The El Portal, along with the Fremont, are visible in the 1958 photo here: http://www.shorpy.com/node/21139

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm

1968 photo added credit Felix Lenox.

David_Schneider
David_Schneider on August 29, 2017 at 3:21 pm

On August 20th during what I called my “Vegas Strip Side Trip 2017” I took the “Neon Boneyard” Tour at the interesting Neon Museum a few blocks from Fremont Street.

The Boneyard is an outdoor lot of historic neon signs from defunct Vegas casinos and businesses. A few are lit up at night. One laying on its side unlit formed the words “El Portal”. I asked the tour guide who told me it is most likely from the theater.

There are some photos of the sign in the Boneyard if you do a Google images search using the terms “Neon Boneyard El Portal”.

To me it looks like it could be the sign in the photos section in these older photos: one, two.

That could mean the similar looking sign on what is now an Indian/Native gift shop is a reproduction or a separate remainder still intact from its days as a theater?

David_Schneider
David_Schneider on August 30, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Fremont Street is now a pedestrian only/closed to vehicles entertainment district called the Fremont Street Experience covered by the “Viva Vision” canopy video screen, three stages with live bands, some street performers, and a zip line called “Slotzilla” you can ride on between the street and the screen.

When I was there on August 19th and 20th of 2017 during my first trip to Vegas, I enjoyed the Linkin Park and Tiesto performances on the screen, the different live local bands, the people watching, and the neon lights on the remaining casinos with the feeling that there is still some history left. I liked it a lot more than The Strip.

I’ve since watched Youtube videos of what Vegas used to look like that left me feeling like I missed something that is now gone. I also would have liked to have seen Fremont Street when the cinemas were still operating.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on November 23, 2017 at 11:33 pm

March 1956 UNLV Collections photo in below link.

http://d.library.unlv.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/pho/id/9166/rec/183

IndyJeff
IndyJeff on March 20, 2018 at 11:04 am

The El Portal Theater was named after a race horse that Mr. Ernie Cragin owned. Ernie Cragin was mayor of Las Vegas for most of the 1940s. I used to work for Cragin Industries back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Horst Schmidt ran Cragin Industries after Ernie Cragin passed away. Horst passed away in 2004. Lots of good memories working for Horst and Mrs. Cragin.

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