History of Las Vegas
The name literally means ‘The Meadows’ and was given to it by a Mexican party who chanced upon it when following the Pike and Smith route along the Colorado River.
Its proximity to the river – it is situated in Nevada, which is most famous for its desert – made it a highly prized location and President Herbert Hoover even commissioned a dam, which would later bear his name. This was made possible by the railroad, which connected Las Vegas to Utah and San Pedro, Los Angeles. The availability of water was what guaranteed that the railroad passed through the town instead of bypassing it.
Thousands of workers visited the town for entertainment after work, and that is when gambling became a highly profitable business venture. The dam was completed in 1936, and electric power began to flood the town, making it a ‘city of bright lights’.
After the Second World War, New York mob boss Bugsy Siegel established The Flamingo, a casino Las Vegas. More hotels, resorts and casinos, including the Moulin Rouge, came up in the vicinity, on a 4.2-mile long road south of the city officially named the Las Vegas Boulevard and unofficially referred to as the Las Vegas Strip. In the 1960s, aviation pioneer Howard Hughes refused to vacate the Desert Inn, buying it up instead. He bought more properties in Las Vegas, spending some $300 million in total, and freed the city from the clutches of the mafia.
Performers like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, and Carol Channing brought in more visitors and they were also responsible for bringing about desegregation - Humphrey Bogart’s Rat Pack refused to perform unless Sammy Davis Jr., an African-American was allotted a room.
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