Las Vegas History & Culture
For the better part of a century, Las Vegas has set the stage as the world’s self-proclaimed entertainment capital, informing global trends in hospitality and experience travel. But before the glitz, glamor, and neon, it was just a dusty stop on the Union Pacific, which completed its rail link between Salt Lake City and the Los Angeles Basin in 1905—the same year the city was founded. The area saw little development until 1931, when Nevada legalized gambling as Hoover Dam construction jobs brought a swath of new residents to the area, stoking the economy at the Great Depression’s rock bottom. El Rancho Vegas, the first hotel-casino on “The Strip,” opened a decade later, prompting the modern development boom since capitalized on by everyone from Bugsy Siegel to Steve Wynn.