Long before the casinos and show business, Las Vegas was an important place in Nevada. It all began when John C. Fremont drew a map during a camping trip in 1844…
In Early Las Vegas by Dr. Karen Miller, take a look at the early years of Las Vegas as depicted in period drawings and photographs. The city takes its Spanish name from a group of springs providing an oasis from the desert. Each of the six chapters is preceded by an explanatory note about the time period.
In the first chapter, a drawing by one of the settlers shows Las Vegas as it appeared in 1855. One thing you’ll immediately notice: not much else around besides desert! It would serve as a traveler’s rest stop for many years as the Mormon and Old Spanish Trails ran through the area. Eventually there was mining and ranches.
In 1902, Helen J. Stewart, a local ranch pioneer, sold some land which lead Las Vegas to become an important city in the west. The construction and arrival of the railroad through southern Nevada helped Las Vegas take off in 1905. Another major development occurred in 1928: President Calvin Coolidge authorized the construction of Boulder (now Hoover) Dam. This major public works project helped Las Vegas through the Great Depression. Although the book ends in the 1930s, you can see how Las Vegas was shaped during its history. Today you can visit a few of the historical landmarks shown in the book.
Other related Nevada titles are available from Arcadia Publishing.
This month, the American Library Assoc. (ALA) Annual Conference returns to Las Vegas for the first time since 1973.
For me, this will be my second time visiting Las Vegas. I first went there as a college student on a family summer vacation. My dad had been on a business trip in metro Phoenix, AZ beforehand so we flew to Las Vegas after he was done. We stayed at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino which was then a new addition on the famed Strip. We visited Hoover Dam and drove through one of the state parks. Despite the desert heat, I enjoyed the trip.
Hope to see you in Las Vegas! Stay cool while you’re out and about. And don’t forget to have plenty of water and sunscreen!
To PUBLIB readers who attended ALA in 1973, please share your memories in the comments!
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