Think of Las Vegas and what comes to mind? Glitz, glamour, slot machines, mobsters and showgirls? Certainly a majority of the over 39.2 million people who visit The Entertainment Capital of the World each year have little or no idea that back in the 1860s, Las Vegas was nothing more than a small railroad watering town.
Officially incorporated as a city in 1911, Las Vegas did not see much growth until 1928 when Congress passed the Boulder Canyon Project Act luring more than 40,000 unemployed workers to the city in pursuit of the 5,000 jobs available at the Boulder Dam project, just 30 miles away. Three years later adding to the allure of the city, the marriage and divorce laws were relaxed across Nevada and the gambling ban was lifted. The Northern Club on Fremont Street became the first establishment to acquire a gaming license. In that same year, The Pair-O-Dice Club was established on Highway 91, as the first nightclub on what would later become the famed Las Vegas Strip.
The 1940s also brought big changes for Las Vegas, when gamblers and mobsters sought refuge in Nevada after the authorities in Los Angeles began cracking down on illegal gambling. One of those displaced mobsters was Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel who saw Las Vegas as a future gambling mecca. Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel in 1946 but heavy losses at its opening forced him to shut it down. Siegel’s luck turned when he reopened the Flamingo in 1947 and started to turn a profit.
Visitors flocked to Las Vegas by rail and car until Clark County purchased Alamo Airport in 1948, which eventually became McCarran International Airport and currently ranks as the 5th busiest airport in the U.S. Soon after The Rat Pack which consisted of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford began captivating audiences at the Sands and by the end of the 1950s other iconic casinos such as the Aladdin, Caesars Palace, Desert Inn, Dunes, Frontier, Flamingo Hacienda, Sahara, Stardust, and the Tropicana began to draw crowds of over 8 million people into Vegas annually who injected $200 million into its casinos.
Fast forward to 1989 when Steve Wynn launched the megaresort era when he built the Mirage, making it the largest casino in the world and the model for what was to come. In 1998 Wynn added the Bellagio, which became the world’s most expensive resort with a $1.7 billion price tag. Later the Venetian which opened in 1999 followed by the Wynn Las Vegas in 2005 meant that Las Vegas could cater to a more upscale crowd.
Today, Las Vegas continues to reinvent itself and draw hopefuls into town with the dream of “hitting the big jackpot.”
Aside from the gambling and the shows, Las Vegas offers other touristy attractions year round. Anyone who is familiar with The History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” knows about the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop located at 713 S Las Vegas Blvd Las Vegas, NV 89101. The shop draws more tourists and fans of the program these days than it does people looking to pawn or sell an item.
Further, visitors to Las Vegas often choose to incorporate tours to the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon during their stay. There are various tour companies that offer guided bus and helicopter tours to these destinations.
With the ease with which a marriage license can be acquired and the minimal costs involved, Las Vegas is also known as the “Marriage Capital of the World.” Couples can chose from a wide array of wedding packages and locations available to suit their budget and needs.