How The World’s Most Famous Road Came To Be

Though nearly impossible to imagine now, there wasn’t always a Vegas Strip. In fact, the place we now know as Sin City is widely recognised to have “begun” as recently as 1905. This was the year the Union Pacific Railroad first started meandering its way through a welcoming desert oasis, or refuelling pit stop to the practically inclined.

Eventually incorporated as a legitimate city in 1911, tens of thousands of labourers desperate for employment and a means to a livelihood began flocking to the region once the construction of what we know today as the Hoover Dam got underway. This was during the depressing 1930s, when the demand for work was at its highest.

And then, finally, in 1931, Clark County issued its first ever gaming licence. Initially valid for 3 months only, said license was issued in the name of a small downtown Las Vegas club located on a dry and dusty desert road spanning some 3 miles in extent.

And so was born what is today probably the most recognisable stretch of road in the world: the Las Vegas Strip.

Then Vs Now

Those were different days to what we’re familiar with today. There was no waiting period for getting wed, no income tax payable to the State, and no inter-state speed limit. too, was completely unregulated during those early years.

By the time the 1950s rolled around, Las Vegas had blossomed into a world-class holiday destination, with everyone wanting to catch a glimpse of Elvis and the Rat Pack. A single-night hotel stay could be had for around $7.50  – a night at a motel for $3.00. And as opposed to the more than 150,000 hotel rooms calling the Strip home today, there were only around 1,800 in existence back then.

Then, only in the early 1960’s, followed the first multi-coin slot machines. These would eventually evolve into electronic one-dollar slot machines. Given our progressive jackpot slot machines of today, it’s hard to even imagine a time when one-dollar machines were considered the playthings of high-rollers.

Withstanding Time’s Test

But what’s even more wonderful to realise is that there are actually some of those very first resort hotels still in existence and operation today – most notably perhaps the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, which is today operated by none other than Caesars Entertainment.

Originally founded by famous mobster Bugsy Siegel and opened on December 26, 1946, the iconic Flamingo (formerly “The Fabulous Flamingo”) is the last remaining casino on the Strip that opened before 1950.

Then, in 1960, the now no-more legendary Stardust became the first hotel and casino to present a production show – something that would later one become a staple of the Las Vegas economy. The first production spectacular ever presented in Vegas would be the France-imported “Lido de Paris”, followed shortly after by the Tropicana-bought “Folies Bergere”, in 1959.

The Folies Bergere would ultimately continue for nearly half a century, with the curtains on its last performance ever dropping only on March 28, 2009.

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Signe Jakobsen

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