Mob Ruled Las Vegas
Las Vegas has a long old history as the gambling capitol of the world, offering games of chance ranging from poker and roulette to slot machines. The casinos started in Downtown Las Vegas along Fremont Street, which is now enclosed as a pedestrian corridor adjacent to the line-up of casinos and hotels. The Mob ruled Las Vegas for years from the time gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931.
The casinos that were not downtown were originally limited to outside of the Las Vegas city limits on Las Vegas Boulevard. The famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign was constructed in 1959 some 4.5 miles outside the city limits. These days the sign is four-tenths of a mile south of the Mandalay Bay Resort casino hotel.
The first casino to be built in Sin City was the Pair-o-Dice Club in 1931 on Highway 91. It took 10 years before a casino was constructed on the Strip. It was the El Rancho Vegas, which opened in April 1941 with just 63 hotel rooms. It was a popular destination for gamblers until it burned to the ground nearly 20 years later in 1960. Local legend says “The Mob” was responsible for the blaze, but nothing was ever proven and no arrests related to the fire were ever made.
Organized crime figures like Mobster Bugsy Siegel took interest in the growing gaming business, which they saw as a quick way to make a lot of fast money. It led to the development of many resorts, including the Flamingo, which opened in 1946, and the landmark Desert Inn opening in 1950.
Financing for many of Las Vegas early gambling developments came from the American National Insurance Company, based in the notorious gambling empire of Galveston, Texas. With its attention to detail, taste for the high-life, lust for good times, pretty girls and pension for making big money, the Mob ruled Las Vegas for years. But when the computer generation came in the Mob, concerned about growing federal investigations into its business dealings, began selling out to corporations, which many now consider the “New Mob” of sorts.
The Strip refers to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road, but the term is also loosely used to refer to the road with lots of casinos and resorts along the street as the center of Las Vegas. Locals regard the area as the Strip Area, Resort Corridor and Resort District.
In real estate parlance the region is recognized as the casino resort zone, where gambling and boozing takes place around the clock 365 days a year. The geographical area includes properties about 1 mile away from Las Vegas Boulevard like the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino and the Palms Casino Resort.
The traditional definition of the Strip’s northern end is the Stratosphere, which is the Space-Needle of Las Vegas and can’t be missed by anyone visiting the area. The Southern end is getting a little harder to distinguish these days with almost constant construction extending its boundary to near Russell Road.
Interstate 15 runs parallel to the west of Las Vegas Boulevard for the entire length of the Strip. Paradise Road runs to the east, and ends at St. Louis Avenue. The eastern side of the Strip is bounded by McCarran International Airport south of Tropicana Avenue.