Today, Las Vegas is considered the entertainment capital of the world, with its huge casinos and luxurious hotels. But the city located in the state of Nevada is far from having arrived like that, with a snap of the fingers! As the saying goes: Rome wasn't built in a day, and the same is true for Las Vegas!
Today on Lucky7Bonus, Matoupris tells you the story of the city born in the middle of the Mojave Desert, which has become the entertainment capital of the world in about 50 years.
The origins of Las Vegas
Before being a city, Las Vegas was above all a valley of discovery by Raphael Rivera, a Mexican scout. He was part of the caravan of the Spanish Antonio Armijo, in charge of opening a commercial road, the Old Spanish Trail, which was to connect New Mexico and Los Angeles, in 1829. Very quickly, they gave it this name because of the numerous fertile meadows discovered in this valley. In Spanish, vega means "fertile valley".
It is also important to know that the Las Vegas Valley is not located in the United States, but in Mexico! It is John Charles Fremont, known to have been the first Republican candidate to the American presidency, who arrives in the valley of Las Vegas on May 3, 1844. He was appointed by President John Tyler to lead a group of scientists, scouts and spies in a possible war with Mexico.
Upon arriving in the valley, a clandestine fort was built at Las Vegas Springs. The war with Mexico finally occurred and lasted two years, between 1846 and 1848. The United States would emerge victorious and a great number of consequences would take place over the following years, among them the creation of Nevada as the 36th American state on October 31, 1864.
In 1855, William Bringhurst led a group of Mormon missionaries from Utah to the Las Vegas Valley. Once there, they built a fort near a stream and used flood irrigation to water their crops. This process is still used in the park today. They remained there until 1857, when, due to rising tensions between the leaders, the heat of the summer, and difficulties in growing crops, they decided to abandon the fort and return to Utah.
In the following years, the region was not really occupied. In fact, apart from a few travelers and merchants, nothing really happened there. During the Civil War, the United States announced that it had regained control of the fort, which was false, in order to deceive the spies of the Confederate States. At the end of the conflict in 1865, a businessman named Octavius D. Gass acquired the fort, then in a state of disrepair, and refurbished it, with the goal of making it a welcome station for travelers passing through on the Old Spanish Trail. He renamed the area Los Vegas Rancho, to differentiate it from the city of Las Vegas in New Mexico.
And it is thus at the beginning of the XXth century, in 1905, that the city of Las Vegas will really be born in the State of Nevada. Very quickly, the city became a key point for the supply and control of Los Angeles and California in general. Because at the base, Las Vegas was the city of the railroad between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, but not only a primary railroad station, but also and especially a gateway to the Pacific coast. Gambling was soon introduced, but in 1910, Nevada banned it.
The Hoover Dam, a turning point in the history of Las Vegas
On July 3, 1930, U.S. President Herbert Hoover signed the bill to build a dam in the Boulder Canyon area. Initially, the dam was to be named Boulder Dam, but the Truman administration changed the name to Hoover Dam.
Construction began in 1931 and caused an explosion in the population of Las Vegas. From 5,000, it quickly grew to 25,000, most of them single men seeking work in the construction of the dam. With this increase in population, the area developed an entertainment market. Local landlords joined forces with Mormon businessmen and even the Mafia to develop casinos and showgirls to entertain the male workers employed in the construction of the dam.
The State of Nevada, seeing that gambling could be a significant source of revenue, but also to counter the numerous illegal gambling rooms, decided to legalize gambling in 1931, thus ending a 21-year ban. The first gambling license was issued the same year, for the Northern Club. And very quickly, other casinos were authorized on Fremont Street such as the Las Vegas Club and the Apache Hotel. Fremont Street also became the first paved street in Las Vegas and received the city's first traffic light in 1931.
The multiplication of casinos
Once gambling was legalized, more and more casinos appeared. One of the first was the Flamingo Resort Casino, the first establishment located on the Las Vegas Strip, which quickly became a staple of the city. Thanks to Bugsy Seagal and the investment of the mafia, the hotel was built in 1946 and is still in operation. In fact, it is the last operating hotel built before 1950. After Bugsy's assassination, the hotel was taken over by the famous tycoons, Moe Sedway and Gus Greenbaum, who made the place even more popular.
Later on, numerous establishments were created, each more luxurious and excessive. We can mention the Caesar Palace, inaugurated in 1966, which takes those who enter into the heart of ancient Rome. Or the Riviera, inaugurated in 1955, which was an emblematic place before it collapsed due to poor management.
The explosive growth of Las Vegas
Beginning in the 1930s, Sin City and Clark County's growth rates only increased into the 2000s. Indeed, during this period, the population will only double during each decade. This increase continues but more slowly from the 1970's, but we still remain at an increase of about 60%. The boom will resume in the 1990s, particularly as a result of immigration. All this will make Las Vegas the most populated city in the United States in 2000.
The 1980s also marked the end of the Mafia and Rat Pack era, due to the aging of the World War II generation, but also to the decline of organized crime members. But above all, it was the rise of the baby boomer entrepreneurs who began a new chapter in the history of the city, the era of the mega-hotels, which would literally sprout throughout the 1990s.
This began in 1989 with the construction of The Mirage casino, the work of American entrepreneur Steven Wynn. This casino was the first to be financed by money from Wall Street. The construction of this building will set a new standard for the hotel industry in Las Vegas, which will rely on luxurious hotels, in order to attract many tourists. The first historical hotels and casinos of Las Vegas will be razed one after the other to make way for increasingly luxurious and sumptuous complexes.
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