Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Being the most popular casino resort city in the world, Las Vegas brilliantly plays the part with its bright, sparkling lights that sets the desert valley ablaze each night. In fact, it would be hard to imagine Las Vegas, particularly The Strip without its breathtaking illumination.

This makes power especially vital for the city to operate, which requires some 6,000 megawatts of electricity daily. Power rarely goes out in Las Vegas and even if residents experience troubles at home, they can simply book an electrician from to sort things out. Perhaps, what would be harder to imagine is Las Vegas with no power and infrastructure, and without its more than half-a-million residents.

To get a better grasp of the city’s timeline, we need to go back to the 1700s.


Las Vegas in the 1700s

Las Vegas sits on a valley that was once a marshland with lush vegetation. The river that fed the marshland receded underground and turned the area into a parched desert plain. This river would resurface again to feed the mighty Colorado River, revitalizing the valley. As water flowed, rich plant life came along with it, as well as a wetland oasis in the Mojave desert.


The revitalized valley attracted its first Native American inhabitants as far back as 10,000 years ago. The Paiutes started to make themselves at home in the valley since 700 C.E., moving from the mountains down to the valley and back according to the season. Each year, this Native American tribe spent winters in the valley near Big Spring and summer in the mountains during the warmer months. This way of life remained the same for the Paiutes for thousands of years leading up towards the end of the 1700s.


While life may seem to have been proceeding normally in the valley for the Paiutes during the 1700s, things were about to take a dramatic turn. The 1800s introduced the valley to the rest of the world and likewise saw the influx of non-Native Americans into the region.


"The Meadow"

In 1829, a Mexican scout who was part of a Mexican trade caravan earned the distinction of being the first non-Native American to have stumbled upon Valley. Seeing that the area had wild grasses, as well as abundant spring waters, the caravan named the valley Las Vegas, which is Spanish for “the meadows.”


Not long after this discovery, the American explorer John Fremont arrived in the valley in the second of his three expeditions. His reports and writings about the valley earned him the reputation of putting Las Vegas on the map. Historians likewise credit his writings as the reason for the influx of non-Native American settlers to the Las Vegas Valley.


Las Vegas Becomes a City

Las Vegas was officially founded as a city in 1905. The following year saw the inauguration of Nevada Power, which along with the availability of water and the construction of railroads, served as catalysts to its fast economic growth. Prior to the resorts and casinos, Las Vegas was a thriving city with its primary revenue coming from the railroads that pass through the valley.


The construction of the Hoover Dam saw the birth of the casino gaming industry in Las Vegas. With dam construction workers as patrons, it was during this period when county officials saw the economic potential of the gambling industry. This encouraged county officials to issue its first gambling license in 1931.


The City Becomes Aglow with Lights

Las Vegas literally lit up the desert valley sky after World War II. Receiving financial support from local banks, the gambling industry took off. Even with dubious ties with the mob, the 1950s saw millions of gamblers flock to the city to play and infuse it with $200 million in annual revenues.


It was also during this period when the trademark casino and resort lights started to overwhelm the dark desert skies of Las Vegas. Since the 1950s, the city has become even brighter, livelier and much more hectic. The contrast between the present day city to the Las Vegas of the 1700s is just staggering.