On May 15, 1907, 110 acres of land were auctioned off to J.T. McWilliams by the railroad company. The area between Steward Avenue, Garces Avenue, Main Street, and Fifth Street (known today as Las Vegas Boulevard) became the unincorporated township of Las Vegas, a railroad town and convenient refueling and rest stop between three major railroads connecting Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. Williams’ original townsite was located in present day Historic West Las Vegas, with the railroad tracks to the east. On June 1, 1911 voters of the township voted to incorporate.
The Historic Westside School, built in 1922, was the first grammar school in West Las Vegas. Listed in the Historic Property Registrar for the city and the National Registrar for Historic Places, it remains the oldest schoolhouse in Las Vegas. Also on these lists is the Las Vegas Academy, formerly known as the Las Vegas High School, designed in a grand, art deco style in 1931. The same year, Las Vegas made divorce (and residency) quick and easy to attain, by making the residency prerequisite for a divorce just six weeks. Guests who went for this purpose stayed at dude ranches which charged a minimal fee to supplement their operations. Construction of the Hoover Dam also began kinj1931, bringing with it a large number of construction workers, giving the city a very welcome economic boost during the Great Depression.
The Las Vegas Army Air Field (known today as the Nellis Air Force Base) was built in 1941.The El Cortez hotel and casino was opened on Fremont Street the same year. El Rancho Vegas hotel‐casino, became the first themed resort on the Strip, followed by the Last Frontier, Flamingo, and Thunderbird hotels and casinos. During the 1950’s the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse downtown held hearings against organized crime groups. Today, the building houses The Mob Museum (opened in 2012). In the 1960’s hotels and casinos were largely being remodeled and added to. Howard Hughes bought many business, including hotels. Corporate ownership of hotels and casinos can largely be attributed to his presence in the business.
In the 1980s, population increase began to average almost seven percent annually. This caused a near double in population within a ten-year span from roughly 186,000 in 1985 to roughly 368,000 in 1995. The Fremont Street Experience opened in the latter year, closing the street to automobile traffic and opening it to the public for a one-of-a-kind light and sound show under a state of the art canopy.
The Fremont East Entertainment District was opened in 2007. The Redevelopment Agency of Las Vegas contributed funds to the project in an attempt to attract more (non-casino) nightclubs and entertainment businesses to the locale. The year 2012 saw the opening of a new City Hall on Main St. The former City Hall was made available to Zappos.com. Also this year, the Smith Center for Performing Arts was opened, broadening Las Vegas’ cultural horizons to include Broadway productions, large scale concerts, and other artistic events.
On October 1, 2017, the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas was host to one of the biggest unexplained tragedies our country has ever seen. With 58 casualties and over 500 injuries, this incident is being called the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States. The gunman, Joseph Paddock, was found dead by police from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. No motive has been announced, but nothing could every justify the horrific act. Las Vegas will never be the same, but remains strong as ever, as citizens of this colorful, dynamic city unite and continue to thrive, as they always have.