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LIFE: Classic Las Vegas

In 1955, 50 years after Vegas was founded on May 15, 1905, LIFE magazine took a rather skeptical look at the boom town and its prospects for growth in a cover story titled “Gambling Town Pushes Its Luck.” The Loomis Dean images in this gallery, meanwhile — many of which were never published in LIFE — provide some wonderful visual reminders of just how raw a place Vegas still was in the mid-Fifties, before the Rat Pack made it their home away from home and decades before the city would begin reinventing itself yet again, with some success, as a “family friendly” mecca.