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Las Vegas, Nevada
A Small Railroad Town Formed A Little Over 100 Years Ago...
Money Is Made By Discounting The Obvious And Betting On The Unexpected. ~ George Soros
Las Vegas NV Is Still One Of The Best Housing Values In The Nation
House Values In Las Vegas Remain 20% Off The Peak Reached In March of 2006
Las Vegas, Nevada 10-12,000 years ago, the valley’s lush watering holes were formed when the last Ice Age glaciers melted.
Spanish explorers, guided by Paiutes and Utes in the 19th century, stopped to sip from springs located in the high desert between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The explorers named these springs, surrounded by grasses, willows and cottonwoods, “Las Vegas,” Spanish for “The Meadows.”
On May 3, 1844, John C. Fremont, the leader of a group of scientists, scouts and observers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, traveled into the Las Vegas Valley while it was still part of Mexico. On May 10, 1855, following annexation by the United States, Brigham Young assigned 30 missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led by William Bringhurst to the area to convert the Paiute Indian population to Mormonism. A fort was built near the current downtown area, serving as a stopover for travelers along the "Mormon Corridor" between Salt Lake and the briefly thriving colony of "saints" at San Bernardino, California. The Mormons abandoned Las Vegas in 1857.
George Hearst, father of William Randolph Hearst, came to Nevada in 1859 on the lookout for rich silver finds. He bought a one-sixth interest in the Ophir Mine in what is now Washoe County. The mining camp that sprang up around the mine was first called Ophir, before being changed to Silver City, then Virginia City. While living there, George focused on solving the problem of separating silver and gold from the ore. In March of the next year, when the first silver was smelted from the Ophir, thousands of miners flocked from California to Nevada. Soon, the entire region was referred to as the "Comstock Lode.” (In 1880, George Hearst acquired the small San Francisco Examiner as repayment for a gambling debt. George tried hard to get his son William interested in mining, but his son was more interested in the journalism business. In 1887 he gave William, then 23, control of the failing newspaper. Three years later, William had built up the newspaper to a value of a million dollars. The Examiner, would later become the foundation of the Hearst Publishing Empire.)
Nevada was admitted as the 36th state in the Union in 1864.
The first ranching activity in Las Vegas began in the fall of 1865 when Octavius D. Gass, a miner, settled on the site of the abandoned Mormon mission and began development of the Las Vegas Ranch. The property was situated in Arizona Territory until 1867 when Congress transferred the area to Lincoln County, Nevada. Gass called his ranch Los Vegas Rancho--so as not to be confused with Las Vegas, New Mexico, another settlement about 500 miles east. He soon became the principal landowner in the valley. He took an active role in politics and served as head of the Arizona Territorial Senate. His career was cut short because Congress in 1867 carved up all land north of the Colorado River and gave it to the new state of Nevada.
In 1867, Senator William Stewart of Nevada hired the brother of Orion Clemens, secretary to Territorial Governor William Nye, as his personal secretary. In those days, senators had no Capitol Hill offices and they paid staff from personal funds. The new staffer, a down-on-his-luck character using the pen name of Mark Twain, needed a salary and a place to finish writing his first book. Twain moved into Stewart’s downtown boardinghouse. As he struggled to finish Innocents Abroad, he also answered constituent correspondence.
Gass, now a resident of Nevada, became Justice of the Peace of Lincoln County. In 1879, after bad weather and bad business decisions in tin mining investments, Gass obtained a loan from Archibald Stewart. Stewart, an operator of a successful freighting business in nearby Pioche during the boom, loaned $5,000 in gold to Gass, taking the isolated Las Vegas Ranch as collateral. In 1881 Gass defaulted on the loan; Stewart foreclosed and took possession of the Los Vegas Rancho. ($5000 in 3 dollar gold pieces then is worth over $9M today.)
Helen J. Stewart, a Southern Nevada pioneer considered the "first lady of Las Vegas", arrived in 1879 with her husband Archibald Stewart. Two years later Archibald was killed at the Kiel Ranch, near the present location of Carey Avenue and Losee Road in North Las Vegas. After Archibald's death at the hands of the Kiels, Henry and Parrish (who were never indicted for the shooting), Helen took over running the ranch with the help of local Paiutes Indians. In later years, Helen and her father, Hiram Wiser, began buying land in response to rumors of the railroad going through the Las Vegas Valley. In 1902, Helen sold over 1800 acres for $55,000 to Senator Clark of Montana, who had ties to the railroad.
Big Jim Cashman arrived in Southern Nevada in 1904 with the railroad industry. Not being particularly interested in continuing to work on the railroad, Big Jim headed for Searchlight, Nevada to take advantage of the mining boom going on. While working in the mines, he realized there was no good way to get across the Colorado River to Kingman, Arizona (which was the major city in the area at the time). Never one to let a challenge stop him, Big Jim and some other fellows came up with the idea to build ferries to cross the Colorado River. The three ferries built were placed along the river, starting with one where the Hoover Dam is now, another in Nelson, NV, and the third in Searchlight, NV. This was the beginning of Big Jim’s drive to connect Southern Nevada – first through ferries for people and mining ore, then stage coaches, then a car dealership, and so much more!
In February 1905, Businessman C.P. “Pop” Squires, best known as the "Father of Las Vegas" and publisher of the Las Vegas Age, traveled with his wife Delphine Squires from Los Angeles and rode the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Co line. They landed in what would become downtown Las Vegas in anticipation of the May 15th land auction. In an oral history recorded by UNLV, the Squires recall their approach to Las Vegas: “ … with the vastness of the desert made glorious by the morning sun; the vivid glory of magnificent mountains enclosing the valley on all sides … the train bumped slowly along and at last came to a stop near an old passenger coach on a little spur, on which was nailed a piece of board on which was painted the magic name ‘Las Vegas.’ ”
The May 15th 1905 auction, a 110 acres of downtown Las Vegas land sale occurred and Clark’s Townsite of Las Vegas was developed, laying the foundation for the city we know today. Montana Sen. William Andrews Clark sold 600 lots in the middle of the dusty valley for $265,000. The Squires built a house on Fourth Street."Pop" persuaded Congress to build a dam on the Colorado River. The Squires, along with early settlers, braved dust, devilish heat and desolation. Las Vegas was part of Lincoln County until 1909 when it became part of the newly established Clark County.
Stewart, the first woman elected to the Clark County School Board, also sold 10 acres for a school and reservation for Paiutes — a colony that remains under Native American ownership to this day.
Nevada banned gambling in 1909. The fledgling community was incorporated as a city on March 16, 1911. Congress passed the Boulder Canyon Project Act on Dec. 21, 1928. More than 40,000 unemployed workers flocked to Las Vegas seeking one of 5,000 jobs available at the Boulder Dam project. Las Vegas, 30 miles away, then home to 8,500 residents, billed itself as “The Gateway to Boulder Dam”.
In 1928, Willis Haviland Carrier developed the first residential 'Weathermaker', an air conditioner for private home use. The rest is cool history.
The Nevada Legislature passed drastic legislation in 1931 that set up the birth of the fabled Las Vegas of today. The Northern Club on Fremont Street became the first licensed gaming establishment. The Pair-O-Dice Club, formed in 1931 on Highway 91, opened as the first nightclub on what would later become the infamous Las Vegas Strip.
In September 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his dedication speech of Boulder Dam “This is an engineering victory of the first order.”
Tommy Hull's El Rancho Vegas put Las Vegas in the resort business. Except for a few bars and saloons, the El Rancho Vegas, designed by architect Wayne McAllister, was rising alone on the dusty highway at the corner of San Francisco Avenue and the Los Angeles Highway. There's a story that Tommy Hull selected that site because he once had a flat tire there and idly counted the cars that came by while he was waiting for a tow truck. He saw the traffic would support a roadside resort. There's still another story that the main reason he picked this site in 1939 was that from a conversation with Big Jim in the wee small hours of the morning on Fremont Street, Hull learned it was owned by a single individual, Mrs. Jesse Hunt, with no partners, so the deal to buy her 33 acres plus another 33 acres for $150 an acre could be closed quickly.
The El Rancho Vegas opened on April 3, 1941 and cost $500,000 to build. On opening night many Las Vegans wore formal evening wear. Hull showed up in jeans, boots, cowboy shirt. According to newspaper reports, he repeatedly uttered the words which became a motto: "Come as you are."
Hull's resort provided a complete package for its guests so they never had to leave. A neon-lit windmill located on top of the El Rancho Vegas casino "Stop at the Sign of the Windmill" was its slogan. Added was a gas station to encourage people to stop. A white wooden fence ran alongside the highway; the pool was visible behind a wood trellis palms, and shrubs. The grounds featured a waterfall running over native rock. A sprawling wagon-train ring of one story Yosemite style cabins housed 63 rooms. It was rustic & friendly, sort of a dude ranch, complete with riding stables. Named the "Village", El Rancho catered to families. Each cottage could be reached by driving through carefully paved and lighted streets. It's guests had all the comforts of home with well-equipped kitchens and every possible combination of living-dining-bedroom suites. The property contained badminton courts, dinner dancing, and an outdoor barbecue serving the terrace. The Chuck Wagon Buffet had seating for 250 people and was the largest in town. El Rancho maintained its own laundry facilities on the premises and a staff of 15 worked to iron shirts with a promise to have them back to the guest within six hours. Ten gardeners worked the year round keeping up the grounds. El Rancho used as much as 10 million gallons of water a month in the dry summer periods. The El Rancho had its own cruiser which was located on Lake Mead that guests could charter for fishing or boating. Stars showcased at the resort included Pearl Bailey, Lita Baron, John and June Belmont, Milton Berle, Ben Blue, famous stripper Lili St. Cyr, Billy Daniels, Jim Di Stephano, Katherine Dunham, The Dunhills, Paul Gardos, Lena Horne, Guy Landis, Joe E. Lewis, Lenny Maxwell, Chuy Miranda, Benny Payne, Harry Richman, Andy Russell and Della, Bill Skipper, Ann Southern, Sophie Tucker, and Rudy Vallee.
The El Rancho became the prototype for all other Strip casinos by having 24 hour gaming, surrounding guest rooms, a chuck-wagon buffet, a showroom, a 24 hour coffee-shop and an on-site gift shop. Geographically and chronologically, the resort corridor took shape from Hull's resort south. (El Rancho Vegas, across from the current location of the Sahara Hotel, burned down on June 17, 1960 and was never rebuilt. Few newcomers to Las Vegas are aware of the importance that piece of land once held. In 1970, Howard Hughes bought 60 acres there for a reported $8.5 million. In 1978 the remains of the resort were demolished. Now Hilton Grand Vacation Club sits on a portion of the land and Turnberry Estates and the Fontainebleau sit where the second El Rancho once stood.) (The Sahara which opened in 1952; closed on May 16th, 2011) SBE Entertainment began a $400 million renovation of the Sahara in March of 2013. The new Boutique style hotel casino will be called SLS Las Vegas.
Resorts International MGM announced that they are going to build an arena. Resorts World Las Vegas is expected to open in 2016 with multiple restaurants and dining options, along with 250,000 square feet of retail, more than 500,000 square feet of convention space, a theater and outdoor pool amenities.
In 1941, theater magnate R.E. Griffith and his nephew, architect William J. Moore were passing through Las Vegas on the way to California to build a hotel. When they saw the El Rancho Vegas they both agreed there was room for at least one more resort in Las Vegas. Moore then moved to Las Vegas to oversee construction of the Hotel Last Frontier.
Also in 1941, the mob sent Siegel to Las Vegas to establish the Trans America race wire service as a means of controlling the lucrative and legal horse betting parlor business in the downtown area. Siegel was impressed with how well the first strip's resort El Rancho Vegas was doing on Highway 91 — now Las Vegas Boulevard, known worldwide as the Strip.
In 1945, Siegel and Lansky purchased an interest in the downtown El Cortez Hotel.
Wilkerson, Hollywood Reporter publisher and the nations most successful restaurant and nightclub impresario, planned the construction of a hotel something other than the "sawdust joints" on Fremont Street. A hotel with luxurious rooms, a spa, health club, showroom, golf course, nightclub and an upscale restaurant. The site was originally owned by one of Las Vegas' first settlers, Charles "Pops" Squires and occupies 40 acres. Squires paid $8.75 an acre for the land. In 1944, Margaret Folsom bought the tract for $7,500 from Squires. Folsom later sold the land to Bautzer in his own name in 1945 under Wilkerson's specific instructions for $84,000. Since Wilkerson was known as a high-roller in Las Vegas, his open interest would have inflated the selling price. To increase security, the deed itself was not recorded until November 21, 1945, some 11 months after the sale. When Wilkerson ran into financial problems, finding himself $400,000 short, Siegel became his partner who shortly thereafter took it over. Wilkerson, who picked Webb as general contractor, found himself reduced to a mere bystander in his dream of building a luxury resort. In June of 1946, Siegel appointed himself president of the Nevada Projects Corp., the Flamingo’s development company. Siegel told his mob superiors the resort could be completed for $1 million more than the original budget of $1.2 million. Siegel mismanaged construction by making several unwise and costly changes to Wilkerson’s plans, causing costs to swell to $6 million.
The Flamingo opened in December of 1946. Staff members wore tuxedos. Gamblers, also in formal wear, hit it big, putting the casino another $300,000 in the hole after just two weeks of operation. Although Siegel knew he was in big trouble for having spent too much of the mob’s money building the Flamingo and for not recouping it quickly at the casino tables, he thought he would be OK because he managed to turn things around. By spring 1947, the Flamingo was making about $300,000 in monthly profit, and Siegel thought his bosses would leave him alone so he could make them big money. He was wrong. Months earlier, at a meeting in Havana, mob bosses agreed to have Siegel killed. On June 20, 1947, Siegel was sitting in the living room of girlfriend Virginia Hill's home, a house once owned by Rudolph Valentino; reading a newspaper when several shots from a military carbine ripped through the house. One slug blew Siegel’s left eyeball out of its socket and across the room. Siegel was dead at age 41. No one was ever charged in Siegel’s slaying. In 1993 the operators of the Flamingo Hilton demolished Siegel’s poolside private suite during a renovation project. Today, there is no major monument to Siegel — no school or building with his namesake — in Las Vegas.
Following the 1946 Flamingo, the 1948 Thunderbird, the 1950 Last Frontier Village and 1950 Desert Inn opened.
American National Insurance Company (ANICO) became heavily involved in financing the early development of Las Vegas, Nevada; the company lent millions to mob figures, and was the subject of an investigation by the U.S. government. The investigation was ultimately dropped. (American National was listed in Forbes Magazine in its "100 Most Trustworthy Companies" list for 2009.)
On January 27, 1951, the first nuclear weapons test at the Nevada Proving Ground took place about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
In 1952, the Sands casino and the Sahara opened. In 1955, the Last Frontier built its New Frontier casino, the Royal Nevada opened, the Dunes was completed and the Strip's first high-rise, the Riviera, opened. In 1956 the Hacienda opened - followed by the 1957 Tropicana & the 1958 Stardust.
In 1959, the Nevada Gaming Commission, responsible for administering regulations, granting licenses and ruling on disciplinary matters brought before it by the Nevada Gaming Control Board was founded. (Harry Reid was chairman from 1977- 1981; Brian Sandoval 1999 - 2001)
In 1964, the Dunes and the Sands both completed new tower hotel additions.
In 1960, Kirk Kerkorian, the head of MGM studio forms MGM Grand Inc. 1962, Kirk Kerkorian bought 80 acres across the Las Vegas Strip from the Flamingo for $960,000; This purchase made Kerkorian one of the most important figures in shaping Las Vegas along with architect Martin Stern, Jr. the "father of the mega-resort. His acquisition led to the building of Caesars Palace which opened in 1966; Caesars Palace rented the land from Kerkorian; the rent and eventual sale of the land to Caesars in 1968 made Kerkorian $9 million.
In 1966 dollar signs were ringing up all over Sin City. Income in Las Vegas shot up by as much as 25% when billionaire Howard Hughes began buying The Sands, the Silver Slipper and the Landmark casinos and other real estate. Howard Hughes' holdings alone accounted for 20% of all the gambling revenue coming into not just Las Vegas, but all of Nevada! Hughes changed Las Vegas forever. "He cleaned up the image of Las Vegas," said Robert A. Maheu, who spent 13 years working for Hughes. "I have had the heads of large corporate entities tell me they would never have thought of coming here before Hughes came." Gambling became Gaming and transitioned into legitimate business.
The Aladdin also opened in 1966, Circus Circus in 1968, the Bonanza in 1969.
In 1970, Barron Hilton engineered the $112 million purchase that would generate the largest percentage of the Hilton Hotels Corporation's revenues within a decade: two casino-hotels: The Las Vegas Hilton and Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada. The move paid for itself, particularly during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the occupancy rate at both hotels remained steady in contrast to industry-wide trends.
The River Boat Casino opened in 1971, the original MGM Grand and Holiday Casino opened in 1973.
In 1973 Harrah's became the first casino listed on the NY Stock Exchange. In February of 1980, Holiday Inns, Inc. acquired Harrah's Hotel Casino Company. In April of 1992, the conversion of Holiday Casino to Harrah's Las Vegas was completed.
There were no new, major casinos built on the Strip for 16 years.
Between 1985 - 1995, Clark County's population increased from 562,280 to 1,036,180, an increase of 84.3 percent!
Excalibur opened on June 19th, 1990 and cost $290M to build. At one point, Excalibur held the title as largest hotel and casino in the world until the green MGM Grand was built in 1994. The Excalibur was acquired by MGM Mirage in June 2004 in their takeover of Mandalay Resort Group formerly Circus-Circus Inc. The rooms in the hotel, now called "Widescreen Rooms", were renovated in 2007.
In the 1990's, Steve Wynn played a pivotal role in the resurgence and expansion of the Las Vegas Strip. Steve Wynn arrived in Las Vegas in 1967. He bought a small stake in the Frontier Hotel and Casino. He managed to parlay his profits from a land deal in 1971. The deal involved, Howard Hughes and Caesars Palace, a controlling interest in the landmark downtown casino, the Golden Nugget Las Vegas. Wynn renovated, revamped and expanded the Golden Nugget from a gambling hall to a resort hotel and casino with enormous success, in the process attracting a new upscale clientele to downtown Las Vegas. Wynn's first major Strip casino, the Mirage, set a new standard for size, opulence and construction costs and opened in 1989. Wynn's next project, Treasure Island Hotel and Casino opened in 1993.
On January 3, 1997, Circus Circus Enterprises opened New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas, based on the famous New York City skyline. The casino owners must have known well in advance that the most famous buildings, the World Trade Center "Twin Towers" in the NY skyline would be missing from the real NY City skyline in years to come.
On October 15, 1998 Wynn opened the Bellagio, a $1.6 billion resort. The Bellagio is credited with starting a new spree of luxurious developments in Las Vegas, including The Venetian, Mandalay Bay, Paris Las Vegas.
Wynn Las Vegas opened on April 28, 2005, the 55th Anniversary of the opening of the original Desert Inn. Then the largest privately-funded construction project in the nation at US$2.7 billion. Wynn Las Vegas was the first resort to include a luxury car dealership. Brand new factory-authorized cars on display include the Ferrari and Maserati brands ranging in price from little more than $100,000 to $1.6 million. Wynn Las Vegas and its sister property Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, opened on December 22, 2008, collectively hold more Forbes five-star awards than any other resort and casino in the world.
April 9, 2008, Harrah's Entertainment's board of directors approves a corporate name change to Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
City Center phased it's opening in December of 2009 and is currently the single most expensive privately funded project in the western hemisphere. The first phase of MGM MIRAGE's City Center, a gargantuan, $9+-billion, was a 68-acre project on the Las Vegas Strip between Bellagio and Monte Carlo. Phase-two will (maybe) eventually occupy the space behind and between Monte Carlo and New York New York. The Boardwalk Hotel was demolished along with a few local businesses to make room for this immense project. Harmon Road meanders through City Center and across I-15 via an already completed bridge.
City Center, an ultra modern, urban environment with nicely hidden parking structures; the project has its own fire station, an on-site power plant, and lots of pedestrian space. City Center has achieved LEED Certification for the project as outlined by the U.S. Green Building Council. Las Vegas is one of the leading cities for incorporating green technology.
The complex is host to some of the worlds most renowned sculpture artists, including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje Van Bruggen, Nancy Rubins, Frank Stella, Henry Moore, and Richard Long.
The current inventory (with the respective architect) consists of:
- 4,004-room 61-story ARIA Resort & Casino (Cesar Pelli)
- 165,000-square-foot casino (Pelli)
- 400-room + 227 condos - Mandarin Oriental Hotel/Residences (Pedersen / Tihany)
- 400-room + 207 condos - The Harmon Hotel/Residences (Foster and Partners)
- 1543-unit Vdara Condo/Hotel tower (Rafael Viñoly)
- Twin, 337-unit luxury condo towers Veer (Helmut Jahn)
- 500,000-square-foot retail and entertainment space The Crystals Mall (Daniel Libeskind)
- $40 million worth of modern sculptures and installations by world famous artists
- 225,000 square feet of convention and meeting space
- 900,000 square feet for back-of-house operations
- 2,000-seat theater
- 70,000-square-foot spa
- 7,500-car parking garage
- Fire station
- People movers (trams)
- On-site power plant
CityCenter has a 1/4-mile Las Vegas Strip frontage. The project's center is the 61-story ARIA Resort & Casino with 4,000-rooms, designed by world renowned architect Cesar Pelli. There is plenty of glitz in the form of light shows projected against building facades. A new Cirque du Soleil show, called Elvis, premiered at the Aria Resort on opening day and followed by Tarkania.
In May 2010, Paulson & Co acquired 9.5% or 40M shares (he disclosed he paid an average price of $11.35 per share) to become MGM Resorts’s second-largest shareholder. It owns and operates 15 properties in Nevada and 50% investments in four other properties in Nevada.
In May of 2011, groundbreaking ceremonies celebrated the clearing of the 11-acre site at Las Vegas Boulevard and Mandalay Bay Road. The entire project includes 39.5 acres with 11 acres as part of the first phase with a 500-foot Ferris wheel and amusement park, touted as the largest in the Western Hemisphere and third tallest in the world. The wheel will have 40 heated and air-conditioned passenger gondolas that each will hold 20 to 25 passengers. The middle of the wheel will be 50,000 square feet of LED lights for advertising. The ride will take 30 minutes and there will be an option to eat dinner in the glass-enclosed rooms. The wheel, giving visitors an unparalleled view of Sin City, is scheduled to open New Year's Eve 2012. The project, led by Las Vegas developer Howard Bulloch of Compass also includes 200,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and entertainment uses. Investments scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2013.
June 2012, Las Vegas airport opens Terminal 3 expansion; $2.4 billion addition gives McCarran International Airport 14 new gates to accommodate international and domestic air service: “Las Vegas expects to welcome a record 40 million visitors in 2012 and the new terminal at McCarran will help us achieve that goal,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, President/Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “The visitor experience in Terminal 3 is unlike any other in the country and delivers on our brand promise. Visitors will immediately have a unique sense of place and receive the type of welcome we want to provide.”
There’s no place like Las Vegas to enjoy watching your favorite sports team, whether it’s hockey finals, basketball finals, the Kentucky Derby, the World Series, the Super Bowl or soccer’s once every four-year championship series, the World Cup.
Las Vegas, Off The Strip, Is Known For It's Gorgeous Golf Clubs, 300 Days of Sunshine And Excellent Choice Of Communities To Call Las Vegas Home.
Las Vegas Offers Homes For Sale At A Lower Price Than The National Average. With The Lower Cost Of Living, Residents Can Enjoy All The City of Las Vegas Has To Offer, From A Plethora Of Entertainment Options, Outdoor Activities, Ballet, Theater, Golf, Museums and Fine Dining.
There's Something For Everyone Who Calls Las Vegas Home!