Las Vegas hasn’t always been the thriving metropolis that it is today. Long before it was a prime location for gamblers, the city wasn’t more than a wide spot in a trade route. With a lot of tenacity and quite a bit of bravery, those first settlers of the Las Vegas Valley helped to set the foundation for the city that we all know and love now.
Las Vegas is not even in the top twenty of the United States’ most populated cities, but it still shares the fame of some of the largest cities in the world – including New York City, Los Angeles and Chcago. Everyone knows something about Sin City, but how did this incredible entertainment capitol come to be, especially the famed Las Vegas Strip.
The “Las Vegas Strip” is actually named Las Vegas Boulevard and was formerly part of Highway 91 between Salt Lake City, Utah and Los Angeles, California. The first casino ever to be built in this road was called “Pair-o-Dice” but it was a distance away from what is known as the actual Strip. The first casino to be built upon the stretch of land that has become famous around the world was the El Rancho Vegas, and it opened on April 3rd 1941.
The most famous of the hotels & casinos along the Vegas strip are some of the most well-known names in all of the world, and they stand for luxury and wealth. Most of the best known casinos are also resort hotels, and offer an experience like no other.
The Bellagio: Steve Wynn is the owner of this Las Vegas luxury hotel. The hotel was constructed in the 1990’s and it features dancing water fountains and one of the best poker rooms in the entire city as well as a Cirque du Soleil show.
The Venetian: the Venetian is a recreation of one of the most well-known cities in Italy, with a replica of St. mark’s Square as well as the singing gondoliers. The Venetian is one of the largest casinos in the city and it features restaurs by Emeril Lagasse and Thomas Keller.
Caesar’s Palace: Caesar’s Palace was constructed in the 60’s and it become the luxury hotel that all of the other Las Vegas luxury hotels were created from. While there is plenty of competition along the strip, Ceasar’s Palace has been able to hold its own as a resort destination. There are three casino areas and one of the top sports books in SIn City as well as Pure, probably the most sought after nightclub on the Strip.
In the early 1800s, the Las Vegas Valley was a prime stop along the Old Spanish Trail. Artesian wells fed the area, turning the landscape lush and green. Mexican traders who passed along the route called the area Las Vegas, which was Spanish for “the meadows.” The name stuck for the area, and eventually became the official name for the city that would one day light up the desert.
Its earliest beginnings as a town saw Las Vegas bringing water into the small town from the artesian wells. The town became a water stop for wagons and railroads traveling west. As the railroad became more established, and more people traveled west, the small town started to grow into a small city. In 1909, Las Vegas was incorporated into the brand new Clark County, Nevada.
Modern Las Vegas has its roots in the 1930s and 40s with the construction of Hoover Dam. The population in the area quintupled during the dam’s construction, primarily with workers hoping to find solid jobs building the dam. In 1931, the state legislature of Nevada decided to repeal the laws against gambling, and legalized the practice. The illegal gambling industry was doing big business already, but now local business could profit.
After World War II, gangsters and Mafia bosses discovered the fresh territory that was Las Vegas and its casinos. In 1946, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky laundered some money through local banks to build The Flamingo and modern Vegas began its ascent. By 1954, millions of people visited the city every year and poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. Las Vegas became the playground of the rich and famous, with celebrities choosing to perform or to just enjoy the town.
Las Vegas is one of those cities that adapts and grows to meet the needs of her citizens. The city never sleeps, and there is something for everyone.