The Mob did not create Las Vegas. That credit goes to railroad builder William Clark, who created the original townsite in 1905 at the halfway point of his rail route between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Clark sold lots, and a town sprouted up beside the tracks. A red-light district, called Block 16, provided prostitution and gambling for the miners who came to town after long, hot months digging in the desert. The construction of Hoover Dam and Nevada’s legalization of gambling, both in 1931, spurred Las Vegas growth. The first casinos, sporting neon signs, lined Fremont Street, creating what came to be known as Glitter Gulch.
Construction work continues atop Boulder (now Hoover) Dam in 1934. Courtesy of Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas.
This federal Bureau of Reclamation I.D. tag was used while building Hoover Dam between 1931 and 1936.
Construction workers from Hoover Dam on a truck-mounted drilling rig used to cut the diversion tunnels in Black Canyon. Courtesy of the Virginia "Teddy" Fenton Photograph Collection on the Hoover Dam and Boulder City, Nevada, UNLV University Libraries Special Collections & Archives.
Early Las Vegas businesses, including The Gem, Arizona Club, Gem Lunch Counter and Red Onion Club Saloon. Courtesy of the Helen J. Stewart Collection. UNLV University Libraries Special Collections & Archives.
Woman in Western-style clothing standing outdoors in Jean, Nevada, next to a sign on a post that reads, "Please don't waste the water, we have to buy it." Courtesy of the Leon Rockwell Collection, UNLV University Libraries Special Collections & Archives.