Vegas Timeline

Las Vegas Identified

John C. Fremont passes through, making a note of the local springs in his travel log.

Mormon Settlement

About 30 missionaries construct an adobe fort to establish a mail stop between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. They abandon it in 1958.


Montana Senator William Clark buys the former 2,000-acre Mormon settlement for $55,000, hoping to develop a town around his San Pedro, Los Angeles, & Salt Lake Railroad. Construction of the tracks begins in 1904.

Clark Land Auction

Las Vegas officially begins with a 2,000-acre land auction, held from the back of a parlor car parked where the Plaza Hotel sits today.

Union Plaza Station

Our first railroad station goes up, sporting the Union Plaza name. The Union-Pacific RR had bought out Clark’s LA & Salt Lake RR. The station was replaced in 1940, and lasted until 1971 when the Union Plaza Hotel—now just “The Plaza”—took its place. The railroad still offered passenger service until 1997.


Prohibition becomes the law of the land. Hardly anyone in Las Vegas notices.

Gambling Legalized

Nevada legalizes gambling statewide, essentially acknowledging reality. That same year, construction gains on Las Vegas’ first US Post Office and Federal courthouse at 300 Stewart Ave.


In late 1933, Prohibition is formally repealed. Just two weeks prior, Las Vegas’ first US Post Office and Federal Courthouse opens for business—that same building now houses the Mob Museum.

The El Cortez

One of Vegas’ oldest continuously operating casinos, the El Cortez, opens on Fremont Street East.

The Flamingo

Las Vegas’ first air-conditioned hotel, famously completed and opened by mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegal, opens. The first gaming taxes go into effect this same year.


The first atomic bomb tests are conducted just 65 miles from Downtowen Las Vegas.

Happy Golden Anniversary!

Las Vegas celebrates its 50th birthday just two months before Disneyland opens in Anaheim, CA.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Betty Willis designs the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.


The Beatles perform at the Las Vegas Convention Center.