Sin City! Pictures of Las Vegas 1906-1971

'For a loser Vegas is the meanest town on earth'. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Nevada 1960 Photo Inge Morath

About ten thousand years after some nomadic Paleo-Indians arrived in Las Vegas and left behind some petroglyphs, Las Vegas was founded as a city in 1905. 110 acres of land next to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks were auctioned in what would become the downtown area. The name Las Vegas is Spanish for ‘the Meadows’.

In 1931 casino gambling was legalised  just as the construction of the nearby Hoover Dam was taking place enabling Las Vegas to avoid much of the Great Depression. Following World War II, lavishly decorated hotels, gambling casinos, and big-name entertainment became synonymous with Las Vegas. The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, located downtown along the Fremont Street Experience, is the oldest continuously operating hotel and casino in Las Vegas; it opened in 1906 as the Hotel Nevada.

Las Vegas in 1906

Las Vegas, c. 1934- Cops & gamblers in a sawdust joint. It’s the Frontier Club (1935-53) where Golden Nugget now sits.

Downtown Las Vegas in 1942

The glow of an atomic bomb test draws Las Vegas casino workers, March 1953 by Volkmar K. Wenztel.

Swimmers at a Las Vegas hotel watch a mushroom cloud from an atomic test 75 miles away, 1953

The Guardian report from February 1951:

An Atomic explosion in Nevada this morning (February 2 1951) by general agreement of distant observers the most violent of the four set off this week – shook Las Vegas 40 t0 70 miles away, like an earthquake. Buildings were rocked and the place glass window of a store was shattered. The flash, at first white, then orange and then finally yellow was seen further away than any of its predecessors.

Fremont St & 2nd, Las Vegas circa 1955.

Las Vegas Strip 1940s Pictured is the gas station of the Hotel Last Frontier, the second hotel on the Strip

Las Vegas, 1959.

Las Vegas strip, 1955

Las Vegas 1957

downtown Las Vegas in 1958

Downtown Vegas, July 1958. Photo by Darrell Clayton Crain Jr

Las Vegas 1958

Las Vegas postcard

Las Vegas in 1962

Las Vegas, July 1962 Fremont Street between 2nd & 3rd, looking west. Kodachrome

TWA poster Las Vegas David Klein 1960s

Frank Sinatra dealing baccarat in the Sands Casino, Las Vegas, November 1959

Hunter S. Thompson and “Dr. Gonzo” at Caesar’s Palace in 1971 in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Strip circa 1968. Time have certainly changed.