Has it been years since you’ve visited Las Vegas? Never been before? Sin City is truly a remarkable place to vacation. Whether you’re into gambling or not, it should be on your bucket list.
Many people get intimidated when they go to Vegas because they don’t know the casino rules or etiquette, or because they simply don’t know where to start. Once you have a little bit of knowledge, however, Vegas becomes quite simple and enjoyable.
If you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas or are considering traveling there, you’ll find the 50 Things to Know in this book helpful and hopefully enjoyable. Remember to keep an open mind, stay curious, and enjoy everything the city has to offer!
When Rafael Rivera was scouting the area as part of an expedition to open up a trade route between New Mexico and California, he named the valley Las Vegas, meaning ‘the meadows’, after its spring-watered grasses. The area did not begin flourishing until the early 1900s when the railroads arrived, connecting it to the Pacific and the main rail networks. Las Vegas was not incorporated until 1911.
This didn’t stop Las Vegas, though, which continued the gambling practice in speakeasies and illicit casinos until it was legalized again in 1931. By that time, organized crime had already moved in and would continue to take hold for the next few decades. Famous mobster Bugsy Siegel opened The Flamingo, named after his showgirl girlfriend, in 1946, which ultimately led to his death at the hands of his mobster buddies when he failed to pay back mob-loaned money. The Flamingo is still in operation to this day, though the mob has been out of the Las Vegas scene for a number of years.
3. Gambling, Showgirls, and Other Adult Entertainment Started Because of the City’s First Influx of Residents.
When President Herbert Hoover signed the appropriation bill to build the Hoover Dam (initially called the Boulder Dam), Las Vegas swelled from 5,000 residents to over 25,000. Most of those flocked to the area around 1931 to work on the new project. Because the majority of workers were single men with no attachments to the area, adult entertainment in the form of showgirls, casinos, and bars became hugely popular to appeal to the city’s new residents.
Though the Strip is often the focus of the Las Vegas gambling scene, downtown Fremont Street was the site of some of the first county-issued gambling licenses in 1931. It was also the home of the first paved street in Las Vegas and received the city’s first traffic light. Fremont Street is still home to many traditional-style Vegas casinos (and plenty of people-watching opportunities).
The first casino/resort to be built on what is now knows as “The Strip” was El Rancho Vegas, which was known largely for it’s gourmet buffet. A popular hotel and casino, it was the location of Paul Newman and Joan Woodward’s wedding in 1958. Other casinos soon followed, most of them with an old west theme that can still be seen today on Fremont Street. The El Rancho was destroyed by fire in 1960.
Longtime casino developer Steve Wynn opened the Mirage, the city’s first mega-resort, on the strip in 1989. This triggered two decades of transformation where old casinos were dynamited to make room for massive casino hotels modeled after buildings in ancient Rome, Paris, and Egypt. The Strip now consists of over 30 hotel casinos on a 4.2 mile long section of road (which seems quite a bit longer when you’re trying to walk the entire thing with a drink in hand and wearing 4 inch heels).