Flashy neon signs, the freedom to gamble and engage in all things otherwise considered a strict ‘œno-no’, and propagated as the best place to let go of all your inhibitions and fulfill your fantasies’¦ yes, we are talking about the ‘œSin City’ ‘“ Las Vegas! Also popularized as the ‘œEntertainment Capital of The World’; this city has, over the years, proven worthy of both these adages as well many more it has earned over the years.
But what might surprise those who are trying to understand the history of this popular city is that it was never designed to or destined for what it is today!
History and Archaeology has proof to show that men have lived, in what is today’s Las Vegas, for over 10,000 years now. In the beginning it was populated, although sparsely, by Native Americans whose major source of livelihood was the corn and squash that they grew here.
The so-called civilized population started inhabiting this land much later. And it all started with a Spanish trader, Antonio Armijo, who discovered this place while trying to create a new trade route between California and New Mexico! One of the explorers in the expedition group, Rafael Rivera, decided to call this place ‘œLas Vegas’ ‘“ the Spanish word for ‘œMeadows’ because of its spring-watered grasses!
And thus was born ‘˜Las Vegas’, in 1829; however, it would take many more decades before it actually gained the reputation that it enjoys today!
The Changing Times:
Once the existence of the place came to be known among Europeans, there was an array of people who tried to make it their new settlement. Some stayed, some stayed longer without much success, and some left’¦Among these, a few that managed to make a difference were John C Fremont, who explored the region for The US Topographical Corps; the Mormons whose attempts at creating a settlement actually failed; and Ocatvius Gass who took over the Mormon’s abandoned settlement and converted it into Las Vegas’ first ranch!
These events unfolded during the period 1844 to 1884. The Las Vegas Ranch finally ended up in the hands of Archibald Stewart, and later his wife, who finally sold it to the Railroad Company in 1903. And this marked the beginning of a host of changes that led to the development of the Las Vegas that we know of today!
Fun City, Sin City:
The completion of the rail road brought about several changes including a spurt in its population from a few hundred to over 1500 and its incorporation as a city in 1911. Another major turning point in the development of Las Vegas was the construction of the Hoover Dam, which began in 1931. One business that seemed to evade, and later pervade, the law was gambling; which was fast-gaining ground as one of the most-sought after entertainments in this region.
With the legalization of gambling in 1931, this business began to boom like no other. Add to it the free flow of money from drug mafias and other criminal sources, Las Vegas soon began taking its shape as the Sin City that promised all kinds of ‘œfun’! Along with its population, the city also witnessed the boom of its casinos; with many of them opening in a quick succession, along what came to be popularly known as ‘œthe Strip’.
And The Fun Continues:
Today, this city boasts of a population that is over 2 million, and the daily revenue of some of the most popular casinos in the Strip are in the range of a few to a many hundred million!! Not surprising considering that this city boasts of fun through its tourism, weddings, and of course, gambling!
And if Las Vegas is part of your bucket list; don’t miss The Museum of Atomic Testing, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, and the City Hall. Of course, its extravagant casinos are already in your list!