Las Vegas History
The area was founded in the early 1700s by a young man named Rafael Rivera. The valley had abundant wild grass and a great water supply, so it was named Las Vegas, which is a Spanish word meaning "The Meadows." In 1855, Las Vegas was the site of a fort built by Brigham Young's Mormon missionaries. The fort was raided by the Paiute Indians and abandoned. This fort was the first non-Indian settlement in the area and can still be seen today on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington Avenue.
Las Vegas began to grow as a mining area in the late 1800s. Then in 1905, Las Vegas officially became a city. It was incorporated in 1911, and gambling was legalized then as well. The Hoover Dam was constructed in 1931, giving the area a population boost. By the 1940s, the population had grown to more than 8,400.
The "Gaming" Industry
In the 1960s, well-known billionaire Howard Hughes began buying casinos and hotels, and with strong marketing campaigns, Las Vegas became the springboard of a legitimate "gaming" industry. Hotels with casinos began to open rapidly all over the city. Live shows of music, dancing and more boomed on almost every corner. Even Elvis Presley opened at the International Hotel (now the Las Vegas Hilton) in 1969.
Today, Las Vegas boasts itself as being a tourist area for families since adding more family-friendly hotels and attractions in recent years.
Tourism in Las Vegas
From theme parks to museums, Las Vegas has attractions for everyone. It's not just a place for those wanting to "try their luck" at the tables! Families can find plenty to see and do during their stay.
For those who like to explore nature and history, there are several museums in Las Vegas, including Las Vegas Natural History Museum (http://www.lvnhm.org), featuring a variety of wildlife, dinosaur exhibits, live sharks, snakes, fossils and more! Other museums are the Nevada State Museum, Neon Museum, Elvis-a-Rama Museum and the Lied Children's Museum. One can also take a walk through Mormon history at the Old Mormon Fort.
Race fans always enjoy the Richard Petty Driving Experience or the Mario Andretti Race Car Rides. Or, one can take a short drive to the nearby town of Primm, Nevada to view the famous Bonnie and Clyde "getaway car," which has been displayed there since 1988. While in Primm, adventure seekers will want to experience the Adventure Canyon Ride at Buffalo Bill's, where passengers take a log ride to a 35-foot drop with a big splash! Riders can then shoot outlaw targets in a Wild West scene just for fun! Buffalo Bill's offers other great thrill rides as well.
Only 35 minutes from Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam (http://www.hooverdamtourcompany.com) is a must-see for tourists. This amazing wall stands more than 725 feet above the Colorado River, and offers a breathtaking view of Lake Mead and Boulder Canyon.
Las Vegas lake cruises provide a great way to spend a romantic evening. Some must-see brief shows in the area include the Fremont Street Experience and Sunset Stampede. The city also offers fine dining, shopping, golf, live shows, casinos at almost every turn, and more. Even many of the hotels in Las Vegas provide a world of fun and entertainment for families or individuals. There is never a boring moment!
For more information about Las Vegas, Nevada USA visit the official City of Las Vegas Web site (http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov).