History of Las Vegas by Jack Landry
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Over the years Las Vegas
has become infamous for its casinos, dramatic shows and exciting nightlife.
Not many people have given thought to how Vegas came to be what it is now.
If you have ever driven to
the city, you know that it is surrounded by a whole lot of nothing. The
desert is vast, the tumbleweeds are many and the population is close to
Then, out of nowhere, Las
Vegas comes into sight. The huge city is located in the middle of a wasteland.
It seems odd that a city with such a booming economic structure and with
so many people could be in the middle of nowhere.
This Nevadan city has a rich
and long history. Understanding the history of this city will help you
understand how it came to be what it is now.
The valley in which Las Vegas
now resides was visited by Native Americans as long as 10,000 years ago.
We know that these people traveled and camped throughout the valley because
they left petroglyphs telling us a little about their history.
As many as two thousand years
ago the Anasazi Indians lived along the banks of the Virgin Rivers. To
the northwest of Las Vegas, the city of Overton still celebrates the culture
of the Anasazi Indians by proudly preserving the artifacts that have been
The first European to find
the valley was named Rafael Rivera. He described the valley to have a plentiful
supply of water and wild grasses. In 1829 Rivera gave the city the name
Las Vegas, meaning "The Meadows" in Spanish.
It was not until 1844 when
John C. Fremont wrote in his journal about two springs of water he found
in the area that the area began to be popular. The writings of the springs
lured a lot of people to the valley.
About ten years later the
members of the Mormon Church that were traveling between Salt Lake City
and Los Angeles built a fort in Las Vegas as a halfway point. Although
the fort was abandoned only a few years later, the remnants of the fort
can still be seen at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington
In 1864 Nevada became the
36th state in the United States of America after being admitted to the
Union. Only a few years after becoming a state, the discovery of precious
metals created a mining industry in the state.
The land in Vegas went up
for sale after the State Land Act of 1885 for $1.25 per acre. Farmers bought
up the land and agriculture dominated the economy and industrial sphere
of the city for the next twenty years.
In the early 1900's the city
was connected to Southern California by railway. The city was a prime stopping
point because there was water readily available.
Las Vegas became a city in
1905 on May 15th. The city consisted of 110 acres of land.
Clark County was created
by the Nevada political leaders in 1909. Las Vegas, having previously been
a part of Lincoln County, then became a part of Clark County.
In 1911 the divorce laws
in Las Vegas were much more liberal than the rest of the country. After
only six weeks of living in "the city that never sleeps" residents were
able to utilize the quicker divorces that the state permitted.
Many people would travel
to this city and stay for the minimum amount of time to get a divorce.
These people usually stayed in the "dude ranches" which eventually evolved
into the Strip hotels.
In 1930 the population of
The city was only 5,165. Only a year after this count the construction
of the Hoover Dam brought many construction workers to Las Vegas, giving
the city a much needed economical boost.
In 1931 gambling in Vegas
was legalized by the state. It was not until 1945 however that the entertainment
and tourism industry grew to be the largest employer in the city with the
formation of glamorous resort hotels and gambling casinos.
The city of Las Vegas continued
to grow and mold itself into what it is now. From a simple place to stop
and get water to a city with a booming economy, the city has certainly
Las Vegas is a great place
to be. There is always something to do, someone to see and places to go.
Offering a wide variety of
shows and entertainment Las Vegas can be explored by families or by those
that are out to find some adventure on his own.
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