• The Meadows

    1800s

    Area named Las Vegas, Spanish for "the meadows," as it offered a green valley and desert spring waters for westward travels.

  • 1904

    Construction camp built here for railroad workers.

  • 1905

    110 acres of land adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks are auctioned in what would become the downtown area.

  • Las Vegas Inc.

    1911

    Las Vegas incorporated.

  • Gambling

    1931

    Nevada legalizes casino gambling. State reduces residency requirements for divorce to six weeks. Construction begins on the Boulder Canyon Project, now called the Hoover Dam.

  • Hoover Dam

    1929-1941

    A growing tourism industry and Hoover Dam construction enables Las Vegas to avoid economic calamity during the Great Depression.

  • LVAACG School

    1941

    The Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School is established. Currently known as Nellis Air Force Base, it is home to the Air Force aerobatic team called the Thunderbirds.

  • Bugsy

    1945

    Notorious "Bugsy" Siegel is one of the several owners of a downtown hotel called the El Cortez. He went on to open the Flamingo Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Both hotels are still in existence.

  • Mushroom Vegas

    1951

    Atomic bomb testing begins 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Residents and visitors can witness the mushroom clouds from the city.

  • 1940s - 1950s

    Las Vegas becomes the gambling capital of the world.

  • Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

    1959

    "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign created by resident Betty Willis, who never sought a trademark or copywrited.

  • Howard Hughes

    1967

    Eccentric recluse and multimillionaire mogul, Howard Hughes, buys the Desert Inn Hotel-Casino so he can continue residing on the top floor.

  • 1989

    Entrepreneur Steve Wynn changes the face of the Las Vegas gambling industry by opening up the first mega-casino resort, called the Mirage.

  • Fremont Street Experience

    1995

    The five-block Fremont Street Experience, featuring 12.5 million LED Lights and 550,000 watts of sound, opens downtown.

  • Solar

    2012

    During “The Year of Downtown,” $789 million worth of projects make their debut, helping revitalize this urban area. These include The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum, a new City hall complex and renovations for Zappos.com’s new corporate headquarters.