Today, Las Vegas is a gambling and entertainment in the desert in the western U.S. However, a number of influences made the city this way and there are various of cultural and personal influences which still loom over Las Vegas to this very day.
The following are 10 gigantic influences which shaped Las Vegas into what it is now.
1) The Railroad Industry
While people first lived in the Las Vegas valley ever since the Mormon migration from Utah to southern California in the latter half of the 1800s, Las Vegas wasn’t officially recognized as a town until 1905. That was when the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad came to town and turned what had been a train stop along the way from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles into an actual township.
2) Hoover Dam
It would have been impossible to have a major city in a desert climate without some sort of water and electricity source. The creation of Hoover Dam did so for Las Vegas. Finished in 1935, the dam controlled floods as well as provide the needed power to eventually fuel Las Vegas’s eventual rise.
3) Las Vegas Strip
To this day, the greatest influence in Las Vegas resides on the Las Vegas Strip or South Las Vegas Boulevard. Beginning with the El Rancho Vegas in 1941, the Strip has blossomed into perhaps the definitive casino, gambling, and resort center on the globe. With its bright neon lights and high tourist volume, the 4.2 miles along the Strip remains one of the greatest travel destinations around the globe.
4) Nellis Air Force Base
The Air Force base built northwest of the center of Las Vegas remains a major base to this day. Its arrival caused the city to outlaw prostitution for fear it would be too much of a distraction the soldiers and arm forces personnel. All the armed force branches use it to a degree. At its height around 2000, nearly 9,000 military personnel were located on the base.
5) The Mob
While the Las Vegas Strip began in the 1940s and there were downtown casinos and saloons even before then, things didn’t really get rocking for the city until the Mafia took an interest in its gambling resources. With Bugsy Siegel pouring money into the Flamingo, which stands to this day, what was a road of gambling dens turned into a resort and tourist mecca.
6) The Rat Pack
While the Mob may have controlled the gambling side of things for many years in Las Vegas, the city became known for its entertainment draws. The Rat Pack, most notably the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., always seemed to sell out shows and support one another during their run through the 1950s and 1960s. In doing so, they helped create a more romantic view of Las Vegas as being the destination for entertainment and naughtiness.
To this day, major performers have residencies at Strip resorts. Celine Dion and Britney Spears are current singers who have such arrangements.
7) Howard Hughes
If the Mob helped Las Vegas take off, entrepreneur Howard Hughes helped change its image into more of a modern, cosmopolitan view. Starting with the Desert Inn, Hughes started purchasing hotels and helped transform an area that had been controlled by the Mob into one with more corporate affairs. He would be the first to usher in the age for corporate interests would come to rule the Strip and, by extension, Las Vegas itself. Instead of simply known for gambling, Las Vegas started building resorts and cater toward its clientele, especially the richer kind.
The university was only established in 1957, but now has nearly 30,00 students and an endowment of $230 million. The school is one of the city’s largest employers and gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to its UNLV Runnin’ Rebels men’s basketball team which won the NCAA national title in 1990.
9) Cirque de Soleil
If the concerts weren’t enough, Las Vegas truly became an entertainment center when numerous of Cirque de Soleil shows took up residence along the various resorts along The Las Vegas Strip. Nearly five percent of all tourists usually witness at least one of their shows during a visit and the various productions employ up to 9,000 different personnel. In doing so, the Canadian entertainment company helped make Las Vegas become more of an entertainment mecca rather than a gambling one.
10) Convention Center
The most recent trend for Las Vegas is the development of its convention industry. Thanks to its near 2 million square footage, the Las Vegas Convention Center is one of the largest in the world and is locate just off the Strip by Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. The convention center helped fuel the aim of attracting conventions of all types even for the casino resorts both downtown and on the Strip.