The History of Las Vegas

2 minutes

Las Vegas
Las Vegas
Image courtesy of Victoria D.

Las Vegas is the most populated city in the state of Nevada, a western state notable for being mostly desert. The city itself sits in the middle of the desert, yet millions of people visit every year. You can also read our city guide for Las Vegas if you are planning on visiting soon.

The city is famous for its casinos, particularly the ones on the Las Vegas Strip, a long boulevard where you will find the largest and most well-known casino resorts like the Tropicana, Bally's Casino, The MGM Grand, and Caesars' Palace. These hotel-casinos offer nightclubs, comedy, music, and magic shows in addition to the gambling. It's difficult to get bored on the Las Vegas strip. It is little wonder that Las Vegas is often said to be the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Interestingly, the Las Vegas Strip is not located in the city of Las Vegas. It passes through an area south of the Las Vegas city limits. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town in 1905 and became a full city in 1911. The city was originally a stop-over, a place where people traveling across the United States would stop to rest and stock up on supplies before continuing to their final destinations. It earned the nickname Sin City because it was known as a place where various forms of adult entertainment that may be illegal in other cities were permitted, e.g. gambling, alcohol, drugs, prostitution, etc.

The first casino and nightclub in the area was the Pair-o-Dice Club, built on Highway 91 in 1930. It was built just outside of the Las Vegas City limits to attract customers heading toward downtown Las Vegas. It was originally a "speakeasy", a club that served alcohol during the years that it was prohibited in the United States. In 1931 gambling was officially legalized in Las Vegas and by the 1940s major construction projects for new casinos were underway.

By the 1940s, the city was already booming thanks to the Hoover Dam project, a gigantic dam that was being built 35 miles to the south.

A large part of the growth of the strip is owed to Bugsy Siegel, a gangster associated with the Genovese Crime Family, one of the dominant Mafia families in New York City. Siegel desired to become a legitimate businessman as part of Las Vegas' legal gambling industry. He eventually would build the Flamingo hotel, which was billed as the World's Most Luxurious hotel.

Today, Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and up to 40 million tourists continue to visit every year.

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