The Dam and the Casinos Save Vegas
President Herbert Hoover gave his consent in 1930 for the Boulder Dam to be built (it was later renamed after the president – the Hoover Dam). When work began on the dam, workers came in droves. Las Vegas’s population went from 5,000 to 25,000. There were a lot of single males from out of town living in Vegas and they needed entertainment. Casinos and Showgirl Theaters were born.
But There Were Problems
The mafia moved in to Las Vegas with the construction of the dam. It was ignored for a while. In 1920 government officials visited the dam site and one of the foreman had been drinking. It was prohibition and this was serious. It was decided that Boulder City would be built for the dam workers and that it would be very tightly controlled by the government.
Gambling was already a very profitable, albeit illegal practice in Las Vegas by 1931. Vegas pushed and was granted the very first gambling license for The Northern Club and it was the first Casino of Las Vegas. Fremont Street, the Las Vegas Club, and the Apache Hotel all got casino licenses soon after. Fremont Street became paved and a traffic light was installed. Las Vegas was on its way.
Of course the dam workers wanted in on the fun and the government tightened the reigns to prevent it. The result? Complex smuggling operations and criminal operations, of course.
The dam was finished in 1935 and it resulted in an electric company that powered Las Vegas. Vegas was alight with energy. The workers left, but the tourists flocked in. Better hotels were needed.
Roads and The Radio
Things were looking up for Las Vegas. And in 1940 Route 95 was extended and went all the way up in to Las Vegas. The city now had two major roads entering the city. 1940 also brought Las Vegas’s first radio station.
What was next for Vegas? The War and Organized Crime as the Vegas story continues.