History of the Las Vegas Strip
Las Vegas, however, back in 1900 was just a small oasis in the middle of the desert. The legalization of gambling in Nevada in the 1930s and the influx of holidaymakers turned this sleepy desert outpost into an international resort.
The road, known as the Las Vegas Boulevard and unofficially as the “Strip”, was part of the story from its earliest days. Originally it was part of an old Spanish trail connecting Santa Fe, New Mexico and Los Angeles. In the mid-1920s, this segment was improved and made part of a new federal road system called Highway 91.
Legalization of gambling in the USA
Nevada was the first state to legalize gambling. In 1931, Clark County issued a three-month license for gambling in clubs in Las Vegas. A dusty desert road, nicknamed the “Strip”, arose south of the city center. One of the first gambling objects that emerged on it was called Pair-O-Dice.
It belonged to Frank and Angelina Detre, who served here Italian cuisine. To the sounds of live music, guests were entertained by playing roulette, craps and blackjack. Over the next few years, a small nightclub became quite popular with tourists.
Little known fact: the famous Las Vegas Strip is not within the borders of Las Vegas and actually falls under the jurisdiction of Clark County.
The first hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, El Rancho, opened in 1941. Five years later, on this boulevard, gangster Bagsy Siegel and partner opened the Flamingo Resort. It was Las Vegas’ first casino resort, which combined a luxury hotel, entertainment and gambling. It exists until now and is rightly considered the oldest casino in Vegas.
In the early years, gambling was not regulated by the authorities, taxes were not levied, and players changed silver dollars to plastic chips for the game.
Las Vegas Strip in the 1950-60’s.
Flamingo was followed by Sahara, Sands, Tropicana, Showboat, Riviera and other casino resorts. By 1954, more than 8 million people visited Las Vegas every year. The best artists of the time, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin performed at the sites of these casinos.
The 1950s were also the era of nuclear weapons testing in Nevada. Between 1951 and 1963, the Atomic Energy Commission conducted more than 100 nuclear explosions. Despite the fears (mostly ignored and underestimated at the time), many casinos promoted it as tourist attractions and even built “open-air rooms” from which clouds of nuclear mushrooms can be observed.
In 1966, billionaire Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel, as well as other hotels for $ 300 million. This was the beginning of an era in which the interests of the mafia in the management of casinos were shifted by corporate conglomerates. At the same time, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian started developing a gaming and entertainment complex MGM Grand.
They paved the way for such casino magnates as Karl Icahn (Stratosphere) and Steve Wynne (Mirage and Bellagio). And big gambling corporations, such as Harrah’s, have teamed up along the Las Vegas Strip under one corporate umbrella.