A Centennial History
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of Nevada Press
List of Illustrations
LAS VEGAS IS MANY THINGS TO MANY PEOPLE. During the past half century, Las Vegas has become an icon of gambling and leisure. It attracts more than 35 million visitors annually, more than Orlando, more even than Mecca in Saudi Arabia. To most of these visitors, it is “Sin City,” the “City without Clocks,” where “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” ...
THE AUTHORS WELCOME THIS OPPORTUNITY to thank those who have aided this project. First, those associated with the planning of the Las Vegas Centennial have encouraged us over the years in ways related and unrelated to this book. The list is lengthy. But we are especially indebted to Bob Stoldal, a longtime Las Vegas broadcast ...
1: Before the City
LAS VEGAS CELEBRATES ITS CENTENNIAL in 2005 as a typical city—and a totally unique one. No other American city founded in the twentieth century has grown into an urban area of more than one million by the twenty-first century. Although outside the city limits, the Strip—Las Vegas Boulevard South—is one of the world’s most famous and recognizable streets, with the neon that continues into the city’s downtown Glitter Gulch area visible from outer space. ...
2: Birth of a Railroad Town, 1902-1910
IN THE FIRST DECADE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, Nevada emerged from a twenty-year economic depression after the decline of the Comstock Lode, thanks to the discovery of gold and silver in south-central Nevada and copper in eastern Nevada—and some hopeful activities in such southern Nevada mining camps as Searchlight. Political and economic power continued to reside with the mining industry in ...
3: A New City Takes Shape, 1911-1920
BETWEEN 1910 AND 1920, THE POPULATION of Las Vegas more than doubled, from 937 to 2,304. This began a trend felt even more profoundly since that decade: in every decennial census, the local populace has doubled or come close to doing so. Today, that means such problems as traffic jams, air pollution, and schools bursting at the seams. At the same time, though, the increase filled in open spaces inside ...
4: Setting the Tone, 1920s
NATIONALLY, THE ROARING TWENTIES WERE known for the bathtub gin and speakeasies that resulted in the prohibition of alcohol production, young women becoming increasingly aware of their own freedom and sexuality, the Ku Klux Klan’s revival, reactions against nonwhites and non-Protestants, a rise of fundamentalism, a tenuous prosperity that benefited fewer than the number thought at the time, ...
5: The Dam Era: Railroad Town into Tourist Town
AS THE 1930S DAWNED, LAS VEGAS BEGAN the long process of changing from a sleepy whistle-stop into a world-famous resort mecca. As Six Companies employees started work on Hoover Dam in 1931, the urban structure and physical appearance of Las Vegas resembled that of many American small towns that had undergone minor growth since their founding. In 1930, small neighborhoods or ...
6: World War and Its Aftermath: Gambling Becomes King
AS DEPRESSION GAVE WAY TO WAR IN THE 1940S , America and Las Vegas began a new round of change and growth. World War II transformed Las Vegas just as it did Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and countless other towns across the West. With the fall of France in spring 1940, and the Battle of Britain that summer and fall, it became obvious the United States had to support its traditional allies in ...
7: City and Strip: Laying a Metropolitan Foundation
AS THE 1950S BEGAN, IT WAS OBVIOUS that tourism and defense spending would be the two industries that would drive the growth of Las Vegas and its emerging metropolitan area. City, county, and state officials would spend much of the decade courting the Pentagon and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), using their congressional delegation to do it. But tourism would receive most of the attention. ...
8: Growth and Community Conflict, 1960s
AFTER MANY DECADES OF MODERATE GROWTH interspersed with boom and bust, Nevada expanded rapidly in the years after 1940. The state’s 71 percent population increase in the 1950s was followed by a 78 percent figure in the 1960s, and the Las Vegas area fueled much of that boom. ...
9: Gaming and World Recognition
WHILE LAS VEGAS ENJOYED SIGNIFICANT expansion in the years between 1930 and 1970, in the thirty-five years thereafter the valley underwent the kind of explosive growth that few American cities have ever experienced. For all of the 1990s and into the twenty-first century, Las Vegas was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation. From 1970 to 2000, the population soared from 270,000 to ...
10: Suburbanization and Diversity, 1970-2005
FOR MILLIONS, LAS VEGAS IS an entertainment capital, a weekend getaway, a setting for popular films, and a place to get married fast and divorced easily. But it is also a metropolis, experiencing virtually all of the problems afflicting New York, Los Angeles, and other large cities. Over the past thirty-five years, Las Vegas has undergone a suburban boom whose sprawl now threatens to envelop the entire valley. ...