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Las Vegas was founded as a city on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres of land situated between Stewart Avenue on the north, Garces Avenue to the south, Main Street to the west, and Fifth Street (Las Vegas Boulevard) to the east, were auctioned off by the railroad company. The completion of the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, linking Southern California with Salt Lake City, established Las Vegas as a railroad town. The availability of water made Las Vegas an ideal refueling point and rest stop. J. T. McWilliams laid out his Original Las Vegas Townsite (now Historic West Las Vegas) on what is now the west side of the railroad tracks.

image of las vegas on 1911

Las Vegas was incorporated on June 1, 1911. On that day, voters in the unincorporated township of Las Vegas went to the polls and voted on the issue of incorporation. The results were 168 in favor of incorporation and 57 opposed. Las Vegas Age front page ‐ June 3, 1911.


The Historic Westside School was built in Historic West Las Vegas on W. Washington Avenue and D Street. The building was the first grammar school in West Las Vegas and is the oldest remaining schoolhouse in Las Vegas. The school is listed on the city of Las Vegas Historic Property Register, and the state and National Register of Historic Places.

image of las vegas on 1931

Divorce laws were liberalized in Nevada, making residency easier to attain. A "quickie" divorce could be attained after six weeks of residency. These short-term residents stayed at dude ranches, which were working ranches taking in paying guests to help make ends meet. Surviving examples are located at Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs. The first gaming license in Nevada was issued to Mayme Stocker at the Northern Club. Beginning in 1931, the construction of Hoover Dam brought an influx of construction workers, which started a population boom during the Great Depression and gave the valley's economy a needed boost. The Las Vegas High School now the Las Vegas Academy, was built at S. Seventh Street and Bridger Avenue. The opulent art deco style high school is listed on the city of Las Vegas Historic Property Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

image of las vegas on 1941

The Las Vegas Army Air Field (now Nellis Air Force Base) was built in the northeast. The western-style El Rancho Vegas hotel‐casino, became the first themed resort on the Strip. This was followed by the Last Frontier (1942), Flamingo (1946) and Thunderbird (1948) hotels and casinos. On Fremont Street the El Cortez hotel‐casino opened.

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Fremont Street from Main to Third Streets was named Glitter Gulch by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

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Tennessee Congressman Carey Estes Kefauver held hearings into the mob at the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas. This historic building at 300 Stewart Ave. is still in use today and is the home of The Mob Museum. Visitors can learn about the history of organized crime and the federal agents who fought against it in Las Vegas.

image of las vegas on 1966

On both Fremont Street and the Strip, hotels and casinos were engaging in face lifts, remodels and multi-story additions. Howard Hughes began a buying spree of Las Vegas hotels and other businesses. His presence helped pave the way for the corporate ownership of hotel-casinos that followed.

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Starting in the mid 1980s, a period of unprecedented growth began. Annual population increases averaging nearly seven percent caused the city's population to almost double between 1985 and 1995, increasing 97.6 percent from 186,380 to 368,360.

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The Fremont Street Experience opened. The $70-million canopy above Fremont Street provides visitors with a spectacular light and sound show. This creation also ended auto traffic on the street where teenagers cruised in the 1940s and 1950s.

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The three-block area known as the Fremont East Entertainment District opened. As part of its downtown revitalization efforts, the city’s Redevelopment Agency contributed funds to this renovation in an effort to attract additional non-gaming nightclubs, cocktail lounges and entertainment hot spots to the area.

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The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement opened inside the former U.S. Post Office and Courthouse located at 300 Stewart Ave. The new City Hall, located at 495 S. Main St., opened for business in downtown Las Vegas, leaving the previous City Hall available for development by Zappos.com. The Smith Center for Performing Arts opened bringing Broadway productions, concerts and a home for culture in Las Vegas.