Las Vegas, Nevada is a city with a captivating political past. From its humble beginnings as a small settlement in the desert to its current status as a major tourist destination, the city has experienced a great deal of political intrigue. From the first settlers who arrived in the Las Vegas Valley to the rise of organized crime in the 1940s, Las Vegas has been profoundly impacted by its political history. The first settlers to come to the Las Vegas Valley camped in Las Vegas Springs, where they established a clandestine fort.
As the population of Las Vegas grew from around 5,000 citizens to 25,000, most of the newcomers were looking for work building the Hoover Dam. This influx of people and money had a major influence on the city's economy and political landscape. In 1931, work began on the Hoover Dam and the population of Las Vegas increased rapidly. At this time, several parts of the valley contained artesian wells surrounded by lush green areas; Las Vegas means “the meadows” in Spanish.
The settlement was further bolstered by two railroads that crossed it, and revenues from these railroads helped to fuel Las Vegas' growth. In 1940, KENO, the first permanent radio station in Las Vegas, began broadcasting. This was followed by the opening of The Flamingo in 1946 by Jewish gangster Bugsy Siegel and his friend and fellow mob boss Meyer Lansky. The two men invested money in locally owned banks to cover up their legitimacy and built The Flamingo.
In post-war Las Vegas, a man named Oscar Goodman was driven to enter local politics by a gang of vigilant police who repeatedly broke into his appliance store. Goodman implemented infrastructure improvements for minority neighborhoods in Las Vegas, supported the NAACP in its actions, and promoted black workers to work. Despite his efforts, organized crime still had a strong presence in Las Vegas during this time. In 1971, author Hunter S.
Thompson wrote and published his seminal novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which detailed his experience of visiting the city. This book helped to bring attention to Las Vegas' seedy underbelly and further highlighted its ties to organized crime. In 1975, a hearing was held to investigate whether money from organized crime was linked to Las Vegas casinos. The hearing concluded that money from organized crime was unquestionably linked to Las Vegas casinos and was becoming the majority shareholding of the city.
Today, Las Vegas is still renowned for its vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene. However, it also has a diversified economy and a stable and thriving business community that continues to expand. Parry Thomas became the first bank to lend money to casinos in Las Vegas, which he considered to be one of the most important businesses in the city. Las Vegas' political history is an intriguing one that has shaped the city into what it is today.
From its early days as a small settlement in the desert to its current status as a major tourist destination, Las Vegas has seen its fair share of political intrigue.