Las Vegas History: Timeline
Want even more Sin City history? Check out the Las Vegas Sun's in-depth look at the history of Las Vegas with video, interviews and more.
A short history of Las Vegas.
May 15, 1905 -- San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad Co. auctions off parcels of land and creates a town site, calling it Las Vegas.
1906 -- The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino opens in downtown Las Vegas. It remains open today.
1911 -- The city of Las Vegas is incorporated.
1926 -- The first commercial airline flight, Western Airlines, took to the skies.
1931 -- Boulder Dam construction begins amid the Great Depression, helping to increase the population of Las Vegas.
1931 -- The Nevada Legislature legalizes gambling and quickie divorces.
1938 -- California Attorney General Earl Warren enforces state laws against gambling, causing many operators to leave California to open casinos in Las Vegas.
1941 -- The U.S. Army Corps establishes a gunnery school near Las Vegas, later to be called Nellis Air Force Base.
1941 -- El Rancho Vegas opens, and the Strip begins the transformation from hosting small gambling clubs to boasting casinos within luxury resort hotels.
1945 -- Advertising expert J. Walter Thompson receives the first advertising contract to promote Las Vegas as a tourist destination.
1946 -- The Golden Nugget opens downtown. On the Strip, Bugsy Siegel opens the Flamingo Hotel; the state of Nevada levies its first gaming taxes.
1948 -- McCarran Field, now called McCarran International Airport, opens.
1950 -- The tallest building on the Strip, Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn, opens with a three-story sky room. The Sahara, Sands, Riviera, Stardust, Dunes and Tropicana open during the '50s, each boasting dazzling entertainment.
1955 -- The Moulin Rouge opens on Bonanza Road to accommodate black entertainers who were refused service in other Las Vegas establishments.
1959 -- The Las Vegas Convention Center opens; the Legislature creates the Nevada Gaming Commission to control gaming licenses.
1960 -- Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop, otherwise known as the Rat Pack, entertain audiences at the Sands for the first time.
1966 -- Billionaire, aviator and movie producer Howard Hughes arrives in Las Vegas and moves into the Desert Inn.
1966 -- Caesars Palace opens, drawing high rollers to its classic Roman opulence.
1967 -- Elvis and Priscilla Presley are married at the original Aladdin Hotel, which is later imploded.
1973 -- Evel Knievel becomes a household name when he jumps over the fountains at Caesars Palace. He clears the fountains but crashes after that.
1980 -- A hotel fire at the MGM Grand, now Bally's, kills 85 people. The fire spurs a change in U.S. safety laws and building codes.
1985 -- The first National Finals Rodeo is held in Las Vegas.
1989 -- The Mirage opens with more than 3,000 rooms and starts a building renaissance in Las Vegas in the '90s.
1990 -- The Excalibur Hotel, a family-friendly resort, opens on the Strip.
1992 -- The first Las Vegas Bowl is held at Sam Boyd Silver Bowl.
1993 -- The Dunes Hotel is sold to casino/hotel entrepreneur Steve Wynn and imploded to make way for the Bellagio. The MGM Grand (at the time the world's largest resort hotel), is completed, costing $1 billion.
1995 -- The $70 million Fremont Street Experience opens downtown, enclosing four blocks of the famous street beneath a light-show canopy.
1995 -- The world's first Hard Rock Hotel opens March 10, luring a new generation of hipsters to Sin City.
1995 -- Landmark Hotel is imploded Nov. 7. Footage of the implosion is featured in Tim Burton's film "Mars Attacks!"
1996 -- Wayne Newton celebrates his 25,000th Las Vegas performance. The Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States, opens April 30.
1996 -- The $72 million, 1,100-acre Las Vegas Motor Speedway opens in September.
1996 -- Owner Sheldon Adelson closes the Sands Hotel after 44 years of operation. Adelson announces plans to build a 6,000-room megaresort (now The Venetian) on the site. The Sands tower is imploded Nov. 26.
1998 -- "Star Trek: The Experience" opens Jan. 4 at the Las Vegas Hilton. After a decade, "Star Trek: The Experience" closed its doors on Sept. 1, 2008.
1998 -- The original Aladdin Hotel is imploded April 27 to be replaced by a new Aladdin Hotel.
1998 -- Bellagio, billed as the world's most expensive hotel at $1.7 billion, opens Oct. 15 on the Las Vegas Strip; Las Vegas' first art gallery featuring multimillion dollar works by master painters such as Claude Monet opens at the resort.
1999 -- Las Vegas establishments book Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Tina Turner, Wayne Newton and Don Rickles, among others, to ring in the new century.
2000-2001 -- The Desert Inn closes and is bought by Steve Wynn, who implodes the Augusta Tower to make way for a new 2,455-room, 42-story hotel called Wynn Las Vegas.
2001 -- The Palms Casino Resort opens Nov. 15, updating the classic sophistication of Las Vegas with chic nightlife, dining and accommodations. It becomes home to the CineVegas film festival, the first casino tattoo shop and cable TV's "Celebrity Poker Showdown" and "Real World: Las Vegas."
2005 -- Las Vegas celebrates its 100th birthday.
2007 -- In March, the Stardust is imploded in a hail of fireworks to make way for Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Echelon megaresort complex.
2008 -- The Palazzo hotel opens adjacent to the Venetian.
2009 -- MGM Mirage's City Center opens. It's the most expensive privately funded project in the western hemisphere.
2010 -- The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opens. The $3.9 billion structure features luxury accommodations, restaurants and nightlife options.2011 -- The Sahara closes its doors for good.
-- Source: www.lasvegas2005.org, www.lasvegas24hours.com and VEGAS.com staff