THE SECRETS OF CASINOS (XIX) The Big Bang moment of Vegas and the 8th wonder of the world: The secrets behind the Hoover Dam

Friday, 13 January 2017

-Oana Mihalache

Sometimes, the history behind some places hides details that are captivating and surprising. The fact that we are often used to consider the present developing phase of some places as being a natural and unquestioned one shows that we must look more often into their archive and expand our informational adventures. It is also the case of a construction near to Las Vegas that influenced the development of this gambling paradise almost as much as or maybe to the same extent to which casinos did. The Hoover Dam was built almost a century ago and those who contributed to its construction also represented a massive wave of customers for casinos and striptease clubs, then the dam helped the infrastructure to develop, became a touristic attraction in itself and then eased the process of Vegas becoming a ”gambling lighthouse”, visible from space. We promise you an exciting story about one of the secrets behind the Vegas casinos, but also many ”wow” details that will captivate you, in the paragraphs below.

The 8th wonder of the world

Sometimes called, not without a proper bombastic approach, the ”8th wonder of the world”, the Hoover Dam – with an architecture and magnitude that are truly impressive – was the most ambitious project of its type when it was constructed. Built between 1930 and 1936, the project worth then $175 million, became paradigmatic for the development of Vegas. In fact, the beginning of this project coincides with the legalization of gambling in the Nevada casinos, which was made in 1931, which meant that many of those working on the dam site had also become loyal customers on Fremont Street, the equivalent of that time for the Strip of Vegas and the only paved street in the city, but also for the brothels found then in abundance in Vegas. Beyond this legalization, Vegas was a city with only 5.200 inhabitants back then and was already known for its lax enforcement of laws during Prohibition – the so-called Nobility Experiment – through which selling and making commerce with alcohol was prohibited, which brought an infamous name for the city.

From hundreds of thousands to million visitors

Located at nearly 50 km from Vegas, the Dam initially called Boulder later received the name of President Herbert Hoover, in 1947. The fact that this dam then ensured cheaper energy for inhabitants in Vegas and eased water supply projects led to an extremely fast infrastructure development and in 1931 the population already reached 7.500 people. Incomes brought to Vegas which were related to the project reached $70 million in 1939. When it was opened, president Roosevelt said it was an ”engineering victory” and that ”It’s another great achievement of American resourcefulness, American skill and determination”. In fact, the dam facilitated the development of the now famous Strip of Vegas, an area which now consumes a huge amount of electric power and it is renowned for that fact that it became the brightest spot on Earth when looked upon from Space, and images captured by The International Space Station seem to confirm this fact.

From small casinos and brothels to mega-resorts like Mirage

The Dam became a touristic attraction in itself and in 1932 around 100.000 people visited the construction site, many of them also becoming a Vegas clientele. In comparison, the dam is now visited by 10 million people every year, and Vegas by 40 million. The construction of this dam turned an underdeveloped area like Vegas at the beginning of the 20th century into a metropolitan area with over two million inhabitants, and this thing wouldn’t have happened if the dam hadn’t provided water supply. The moment when the development of casinos in Vegas took shape was in 1941, when El Rancho Vegas Resort was open, soon many other important ones followed, and the section of highway that now hosts an impressive number of casinos became known as “The Strip”. The 1989 moment came, when the casino developer Steve Wynn opened the first mega-resort of Vegas, Mirage.

When the Hoover Dam was inaugurated, the colossus concrete construction built as a gravity-arch was the world’s largest power plant of its time. It stands 220 meters tall and it its 200 meters thick and now provides energy for California, Nevada, and Arizona. Specialists estimate that it the dam did not exist, it would now take an amount of $4 billion to build it.

Even if at that time the impressive development of Vegas, until reaching the stage it reached now was not predicted, the Hoover Dam is still is one of the most important constructions in the history of Vegas, which continues to influence its development. If at the beginning of the 20th century, when Vegas was founded during a land auction in the area, was known as an “underdeveloped dessert valley” between Utah and California, it is now one of the most important cities for gambling operators, for players and for many celebrities around the world. If those in the gambling industry are not able to imagine the world without Las Vegas, residents there are unable to imagine life without Hoover Dam.

Author: Editor

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