City located in a desert valley has a rather abstract way of being, due to its developing and historical affinity to risk and reward. Let’s find out why.
In 1854, the US Congress commissioned the Las Vegas Valley to be a regular stop on the monthly mail route between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, appropriating $25,000 for military and mail roads. Missionaries, traders and Mormons resided in the ‘new’ town.
A major water source in the valley meant that in 1902, Senator William Andrews Clark bought the property to use it as a water stop for the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, connecting the two cities.
On May 15th 1905, there was an auction of lots – around 3,000 people arrived from LA and Salt Lake to bid on land along the railroad and downtown Las Vegas was born. Clark County, named after the Senator, was formed, with Americans moving to the desert looking for fortune.
The first Hotel/Casino named El Rancho Vegas opened on Fremont Street in 1941 alongside a few others, Las Vegas now began taking shape as electricity from the dam flooded into the city.
However, it was the opening of the Flamingo in 1946 led by mobster Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel, a driving force in the development of the Valley, that would come to define the Las Vegas of memory.
In 1950, an unincorporated township named Paradise, that is The Strip in Las Vegas, was formed after mobsters forced the Clark County Commissioners so as to avoid annexation and therefore tax.
More casinos were built after the war and by the 1960s, Las Vegas was a hot spot for Americans to come and visit. Star attractions such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby and Liberace gave holiday goers all the more reason to visit.
Mobsters saw an opportunity in Las Vegas and began lending money to casino owners and developers to build more. Caesars Palace was completed in 1966, but this was the beginning of the end for the involvement of organised crime in the casino business.
Corporate replaces the mob
Howard Hughes, the aviation mogul, was the turning point entering the era of corporate ownership in order to acquire gaming licenses and so the Mob could no longer manipulate individual casino owners. This modern era saw larger and more ornately designed casinos come to fruition.
Kirk Kerkorian took on Jay Sarno’s Caesars Palace when he built what was the largest hotel in the world in 1969 called The International. He then bought the MGM studio and built the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, also the largest hotel in the world at the time.
Economic downturns and the fires of the MGM and the Hilton affected business in the Las Vegas area. However, at the beginning of the 90s, the first mega-resort built by Steve Wynn had yet again put Las Vegas on the map as the gaming capital of the world. We are of course talking about the Mirage.
The largest hotel in the world at the time. The top 5 floors used exclusively for high roller rooms and penthouse suites. The first casino to use security cameras full-time on all casino tables. The first casino built on the strip in 16 years.
The Mirage’s abnormal attractions such as an artificial volcano erupting nightly at 8, 9 and 10 pm, an atrium with palm trees inside, a 53-foot long aquarium, a secret garden and dolphin habitat, and a theatre with a Cirque de Soleil show remixing Beatles songs.
This was the first mega-resort in Las Vegas that was funded by Wall Street and was paid off within 18 months of their opening!
The success of The Mirage led to another extraordinary boom period, birthing hotels such as Rio (1990), Treasure Island, MGM Grand, Luxor (1993), The Strat Hotel, Monte Carlo (1996), New York-New York (1997), Bellagio (1998), Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, Paris Las Vegas (1999), Planet Hollywood (2000), Palms (2001) and Wynn (2005).
Las Vegas was the fastest growing urban area in the United States of years. The population rose from 700,000 in 1990 to 2 million in 2010, which is on par with the population growth in London during the same time.