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In Midcentury Paradise Palms, A History of Glamour and Gangsters

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Welcome to CityScapes, a column in which we explore some of the nation's oft-overlooked cities and towns: their local history and real estate offerings. Have a suggestion? Do let us know.

In the late 1960s, with urban sprawl on the rise, huge tract developments were all the rage in America. From the first post-war development at Levittown, N.Y. on Long Island, the trend quickly spread westward as a wave of returning servicemen sunk their G.I. loans into a family home. Paradise Palms in Las Vegas, Nev. was, 10 years after Levittown, a bit late to the party, but, thanks to a strong community spirit among current residents, a colorful history, and some colorful houses (above), it remains one of the finer examples of the post-war land rush. That architectural phenoms Dan Palmer and William Krisel—noted designers of tract homes in midcentury hot bed Palm Springs, Calif.—penned the blueprints only adds to the appeal.

? The developers' emphasis on speed is evident in Paradise Palms marketing materials (above), which, while supposedly providing the buyer with a wide range of choices, in fact used a standardized set of designs. These plans could be rotated and modified slightly with minimal cost to developer Irwin Molasky. The three houses above all represent twists on the same fundamental structure. Molasky is famous as the pioneer that kickstarted Las Vegas's rampant post-war growth. In addition to Paradise Palms, Vegas's first master-planned community, he was responsible for the city's first enclosed mall, first major hospital, and first high-rise office building.

? Over the years, Paradise Palms attracted a fair share of Vegas personalities like Johnny Carson, LaToya Jackson, and Dean Martin. Martin and the rest of the Rat Pack reportedly spent a good deal of time on the links at the neighboring Las Vegas National Golf Club. But the neighborhood also had a darker side, as it was home to notorious mobster Anthony Spilotro, the violent inspiration for Joe Pesci's character in Casino. In fact, director Martin Scorsese chose a house in the neighborhood (above) as the fictional home of the film's protagonist, played by Robert De Niro.

? One of the priciest listings in the Paradise Palms development, this $289K ranch measures almost 3,500-square-feet, features four bedrooms and three baths, and backs up on the golf course. Sadly, the interiors have lost some of their midcentury charm to a bland but functional renovation, but at least there's a wet bar on the back patio.

? A smaller, and slightly less tampered with, option is this 2,200-square-foot three bedroom, asking $135K. The empty pool doesn't do much for the walk-through appeal, but the wood-paneled period kitchen and Rat Pack-esque stone bar make up for shoddy staging.

? North of Desert Inn Road, the houses are generally smaller and much cheaper, as the busy road stands between that section of the neighborhood and the green expanses of the golf course. This three-bedroom, two-bath home might be a little rough around the edges, but at just $85K it sure is a cheap way to break into midcentury ownership.
· Sixty Years On, Revisiting the First True American Suburb [Curbed National]
· Paradise Palms Blog [official site]
· A Little Piece of Paradise [Living Las Vegas]
· 3597 Cochise [Redfin]
· 1575 Seneca [Redfin]
· 3212 Brazos [Redfin]