Las Vegas: Desert Dream To Desert Destination
Not many cities can lay claim to most of their growth happening in the past century in the United States, but Las Vegas not that long ago was just a small water stop built in the shadow of a small Mormon mission. While it’s hard to imagine Las Vegas as an insignificant little dot on the map for travelers, for a long time they were merely a small stopover in a desert valley.
In fact, even the thought of Las Vegas growing seemed unlikely until proper piping was set up in the early 1900’s to support what would become Las Vegas with fresh water that would always be available from that point on. Ironically at the beginning around 1910 and 1911, Las Vegas became a town, had its first mayor and made gambling illegal. Initially, a stopping point and a railroad town, the bankruptcy of the main rail company going through town left Vegas’s future looking pretty iffy in the beginning.
The 1930s and 1940s, while not a real time for much of the country because of The Great Depression, did breathe life into the small Nevada settlement because of the building of Hoover Dam. The massive influx of single male workers led to the construction of gambling halls, bars, and show houses and directly resulted in the localized legalization of gambling.
This would eventually lead in the mafia backed casinos that created an entertainment Mecca in what had previously been a tiny desert. However, it was Howard Hughes in the mid 1950’s and in the 1960’s using his fortune to transform Las Vegas into an early version of the cosmopolitan city that it has become today, though it would be the 1970’s and 80’s that would demonstrate an explosive growth that would propel Las Vegas into the internationally renowned destination it is today.
While major corporations own most of the major casinos now, it’s easy to see Vegas as the cosmopolitan destination millions of people visit every year and hard to imagine it as a tiny stopping point that offered water, outlawed gambling, and offered very little else other than a place to rest your head for continuing on your way to another destination.
That’s exactly what the history of Las Vegas shows: a city that started as a spec in the desert and in modern times somehow transformed in one century to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.