March 4, 2010
Only in Vegas
Replicated natural wonders of the world, indoor man-made waterfalls, simulated pirate ship battles, a dolphin habitat, and indoor gondola rides are a few of the small attractions that place modern day Las Vegas as a hotspot on the US map. In fact, there are so many small attractions blended with large attractions that the experience of Las Vegas itself has become an attraction. Disregarding traditional methods and exploring outrageous ideas in the areas of engineering, architecture, and planning, this city has become a very accepted destination that has become a marketing phenomenon. For a city that is in the middle of nowhere, it has a made quite an impression on the people it draws. It is no surprise that this city has had a history of prosperity and boom.
The first main draw of the area known as Las Vegas was water. Water was not in over abundance compared to other cities, but the mere presence of spring water was a marvel for that region of the Mojave Desert. In the late 1820’s, explorers on the Old Spanish Trail went into unexplored areas searching for the very thing that area known Las Vegas had to offer them, water. Water in the area had produced vegetation, and Las Vegas apparently flourished with it. The presence of water positioned Las Vegas on the map of the Old Spanish Trail. It shortened the path between Santa Fe and Los Angeles, and became a marked location on this increasingly traveled route. This area is repeatedly referred to as an oasis: Las Vegas was named accordingly, as its meaning in Spanish is “The Meadows.”
Minerals were rich in the area, and according to local government history, Mining began in the late 1800’s. This, the railroad boom in the 1900’s, and a man name William Clark led to railroads being placed through the prime spot of Las Vegas because of its location between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, the climate of the general area, and of course, its abundance of water and vegetation among the vast desert. Railroads required workers, and workers required the usual: a place to sleep, eat, and of course, drink and seek entertainment. This led to the earliest of saloons and markets, building toward a city. According to the City of Las Vegas government, “Las Vegas was founded as a city on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres of land situated between Stewart Avenue on the north, Garces Avenue to the south, Main Street to the west, and 5th Street (Las Vegas Boulevard) to the east, are auctioned off.” This auction allowed for more relocation of people into the town. “In 1911 a gas plant, power company, and telephone system were projected” (Durnke 263). Las Vegas was starting to grow. “The modern attitude of Las Vegas, along with the rest of the American West, favors more exclusiveness. In March, 1909, the Las Vegas Promotion Society was organized at a citizens' meeting attended by fifty persons at the Opera House.' Its purpose, as stated in the opening resolutions, was to make known Las Vegas' resources and to encourage new enterprises and industries” (Durnke 264). Shortly after, a city government was formed, and railroads and mining continued. Later, in 1931, construction of the Hoover Dam began and led to a further influx of workers. The population was estimated according to Clark County records to stand around 8000 between the period of the completion of the Hoover Dam in 1935 and 1940.
Water, convenience, and work led people into this city prior to 1931. Later, with World War II under way, many military installations were established in the desert due to its attractive resources, including its low-priced energy available from the Hoover Dam. Defense industry was started, and a further opportunity for workers emerged. After the war was over, the post industrial society took advantage of the amenities offered by Las Vegas, and the entrepreneurs did the same.
Gambling had previously been around in many states. It managed to receive a discerning reputation...