Friday, March 2, 2012


      I've spent the past week in Las Vegas due to a family medical
emergency.  While here I had occasion to drive down 'the strip' several
times.  Each time I'm here I marvel at how many changes take place
between my visits here.  New hotels, restaurants, casinos, etc. The
city continuously seems to be re-inventing itself.
      My first visit to Las Vegas was years ago when I won a trip for
two as a contestant on Name That Tune.  My weekend was spent at the
'luxurious' Fremont Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.
      When my kids were growing up, our family spent many vacations in
Las Vegas.  We'd stay at Bally's or the Mirage, or Caesar's Palace (my
favorite).  A good number of our family lives there and by then Vegas
had become 'family friendly' with kids shelling out as much money on
video games as their parents were coughing up at the craps table. My
husband enjoyed gambling more than I ever did; I much preferred taking
my money and betting it on a sure thing  -- a purchase at Fashion Mall.
       Hard to believe that nearly two hundred years ago this hamlet was 
little more than a marsh of water and vegetation.  In fact, in the 19th
century, small parts of the Las Vegas Valley contained artesian wells
that supported extensive green areas, hence the name Las Vegas, Spanish
for The Meadows. The Las Vegas valley was found by American explorer
and mountain man Jedediah Smith and his party in 1827. In 1926 Las
Vegas was finally connected to California with a road but the city
became notorious as a place for speakeasies catering to tourists and
traveling businessmen. It wasn't long before Vegas began to get a seedy
reputation. Crime figures having connections to the Irish mob, Italian,
and Jewish mafias began arriving in significant numbers. On July 3,
1930, President Herbert Hoover signed the appropriation bill for the
Boulder Dam (which was later renamed the Hoover Dam under the Truman
administration). Even with its known association with organized crime,
by 1954, over 8 million people were visiting Las Vegas yearly, pumping
200 million dollars into casinos. Gambling wasn't the only attraction,
they also came in droves to see the biggest stars of film and music
of that era. Stars like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.,
and Dean Martin.  There was a lull for a while and then the megaresort
era was ushered in in 1989 with the construction of The Mirage.
       Vegas is a popular lure for those seeking vacations, bachelor parties,
destination weddings, gambling junkets, and entertainment venues. Though
things have changed from the fifties and sixties when Sinatra and his
rat pack ruled the town (see the archives for my blog on the Rat Pack)
visionaries like Steve Wynn and Donald Trump have succeeded in bringing
the glitz back to the strip by creating the kind of hotel that has
always made Las Vegas the fantasy destination it is.
       Hotels like the Sands, the Dunes, and the Sahara were razed to
make way for newer, more modern hotels resorts, such as:

1990: Rio and Excalibur
1993: MGM Grand Las Vegas, Treasure Island, and Luxor,
1996: Stratosphere Tower and Monte Carlo
1997: New York-New York
1998: Bellagio
1999: Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, and Paris
2000: Aladdin (now Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.)
2001: Palms
2005: Wynn Las Vegas (opened in April by Wynn Resorts Limited opened
its new flagship, the constructed at a cost of US$2.7 billion.)
2007: The Palazzo, Las Vegas
2008: Encore
2009: CityCenter
2009: The Aria Resort and Casino
2010: The Cosmopolitan

Have a great weekend and thanks for joining me on my journey along RHODES LESS TRAVELED,


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