From Sin to In City, Viva Las Vegas
June 13, 2017 3:00 AM
by Dana Lane
It’s truly amazing what we’ve done here in such a short time.
That was my thought as I rolled down Las Vegas Boulevard trying to really internalize the accomplishments of our fair city. When I first laid eyes on this town I spent most of my time downtown because I thought the construction of Treasure Island was scary with the skull and cross bones barricade to what would eventually become Steve Wynn’s second major resort.
The label of Sin City was petrifying enough to a young Air Force guy who was still trying to grasp his new home.
I was lucky; a young kid who could dabble in the desert offerings knowing I always had a place to stay and food to eat. I knew quickly Las Vegas would always be my home.
We grew up together, is what I like to tell people, both of us wanting and deserving society’s respect while knowing it had to be earned with our accomplishments. Through it all we always had each other’s back. In the case of Las Vegas, its progression surpassed my personal expansion a long time ago.
As I try to avoid yet another pedestrian who seems to be confused by the “don’t walk” sign, I can’t help but think that Las Vegas is what America is all about. No, not the girls with six inch heels stumbling from their latest pool party like newborn calves, but how great people took a look at this 1820’s trade route and thought, we might have something here. Have a vision and make it happen is how this country has always operated.
The early 1900’s brought exuberance for opportunity as the Salt Lake, Los Angeles, and San Pedro railroads were completed linking Utah to California, Las Vegas officially became a city and the Boulder (Hoover) Dam was built in what was a major force in driving up to 25,000 workers to our town.
In 1931, the landscape changed when the first gambling license was issued to the Northern Club located on Fremont Street. The town had been seeded for what would become a billion dollar industry.
Passing by the Bellagio Fountains I wondered, when did the Strip come into existence and why is it severed from downtown.
The answer is simple, casino owners didn’t want to pay city tax so they built outside the city limits, right around where the SLS Hotel stands today.
I evaluated the marquees wondering with each mile what it must have been like to see the Rat Pack or Elvis Presley presented so prominently. Names we hold in high regard now were most likely treated as just this week’s acts in the Entertainment Capital of the World. I wonder if we appreciate the acts we have now. Could Celine be underappreciated?
Professional sports have gotten over themselves allowing our town to sit at the big boy table as the Vegas Golden Knights and Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders are now calling Clark County home; good thing Las Vegas has evolved into a world class dining destination, I wouldn’t want Marshawn Lynch wondering where his next meal was coming from.
The best part of this city is the part that’s unknown to most visitors, the unknown realm known as “outside the Strip.” Most believe if you set one step past the Palms or the Hard Rock you surely would prove the “earth is flat” theory correct. They treat Decatur Boulevard like the wall in “Divergent.”
The people who live here know it’s filled with parks, schools, and churches. Try telling a visitor our lives don’t revolve around the roulette wheel; they’ll give the same look a stranger gives you when you say “hello” in New York City.
Las Vegas is the fourth youngest city in the United States and 10th in North America. Albany, New York has existed for 400 years, yet there is no comparison as to which city is more alive. Los Angeles is twice the age, yet numbers of people moving here from California is constant.
The point is not to knock any other town but to stand back and be thankful for the one we have. What has been done in the middle of the Mojave Desert is special; I can’t imagine what the next 100 years will bring.