Las Vegas

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, as can be seen in A View To A Kill (1985)

Las Vegas, San Francisco & Los Angeles

L.A.:

Even though the first Europeans reached the Los Angeles area already in 1542, it took until 1781 before the original Portuguese mission was developed into a Spanish held pueblo or town. Not many people will know that L.A.’s original name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles Del Río de Porciúncula", meaning ‘the Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the River Porciúncula’. By 1821 L.A. still was a small town with a few hundred settlers as inhabitants, when Alta California, as the region was called, became independent from the Spanish Empire and became part of Mexico. This rule ended during the American-Mexican War and after a short adventure as an independent republic California became the 31st state in 1850.

Around that same time the gold rush began when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill. The effects were gigantic. Both L.A. and San Francisco grew from tiny hamlets into busy cities almost overnight when roads, schools, churches and other towns were quickly built. When in 1869 the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads joined at Promontory Summit in Utah, the first Transcontinental Railroad was established, giving California another boost of indescribable proportions.

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Las Vegas:

Named after the availability of water in the valley - LasVegas means ‘the meadows’ in Spanish - the small desert town in Nevada became a small city when construction of the Boulder (now Hoover) Dam began in the early 1930’s. With gambling legalized in 1931, Las Vegas started its rise to world fame as the gambling capital of the world. Gambling became organized and regulated. The city issued the first gambling license in 1931 to the Northern Club,
and soon other casinos were licensed on Fremont Street like the Las Vegas Club and the Apache Hotel.

Fremont Street developed its nickname as Glitter Gulch from all of the lights that were powered by electricity from Hoover Dam. This huge dam and its reservoir, Lake Mead, turned into tourist attractions on their own and the need for additional higher class hotels became clear. On April 3, 1941, El Rancho Vegas opened its doors. It was the first resort on what would become the Las Vegas Strip. A few more resorts were built on and around Fremont Street but it wouldn’t take long before the Strip publicly demonstrated the influence of organized crime on Las Vegas when gangster Bugsy Siegel, with help from fellow mobster Meyer Lansky, built the infamous Flamingo there in 1946.

Many people, including some involved with organized crime, saw the potential that gambling offered in Las Vegas. From 1952 to 1957, they built the Sahara, the Sands, the New Frontier, the Royal Nevada, The Showboat, The Riviera, The Fremont, Binion’s Horseshoe (which was the Apache Hotel), and finally The Tropicana.

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Elrod House, where Bond faught Bambi and Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Dunsmuir House, Stacey Sutton's house in A View To A Kill (1985)
San Francisco:

AVTAK’s storyline deals with megalomaniac microchip industrialist Max Zorin who is secretly planning to detonate explosives around Hayward & San Andreas Faults to create an earthquake that will destroy Silicon Valley, one of the world’s largest concentrations of computer related industries, located in the Santa Clara Valley, south of San
Francisco Bay. Silicon Valley and the graduates of Stanford University are largely responsible for many of the electronic computerised appliances we all work with daily. William Hewlett and David Packard teamed up here to build personal computers together from a workshop initially located in Packard’s garage, and small companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google all started here in cupboard offices and changed the world forever with their innovative
ideas.

While certainly an interesting story idea, the film seriously suffers from many factors like a visibly aging Roger Moore and a truly lousy written female lead-part, played by Tanya Roberts. Christopher Walken is a menacing and unpredictable villain and surely makes up for other flaws. Grace Jones is a surprise, not only for the viewer but for Bond as well when he slips into her bed in Zorin’s Château. The film’s finale was filmed in and around San Francisco and gives the viewer a good idea of what the area has to offer. We will start off outside the city and work
our way back to the waterfront.

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This and much more can be found in the chapter 'Mud Pies and Rock Salt' in ON THE TRACKS OF 007

Connected hotels:

Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Circus Circus

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Tropicana

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Riviera

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
One of the oldest and most recognizable hotels of Las Vegas unfortunately closed its doors in May 2015.
The Riviera was the hotel where cast and crew stayed during the 7 weeks Las Vegas shoot. It's where Bond met Plenty O’Toole at the gambling tables where also the scene was filmed with Sammy Davis Jr., which eventually ended up on the floor of the cutting room.
The Riviera will be demolished to make way for convention and meeting facilities.
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