Jeff Burbank

Howard Hughes

Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. was the reclusive billionaire, airline owner, aviator, government contractor, and film producer who would have a major impact on the future of Las Vegas after moving there in 1966. By the late 1960s, he owned six casinos on the Las Vegas Strip as well as other hotel-casinos and businesses around the state. Hughes was determined to rid Las Vegas of its ties to organized crime. His presence brought credibility to casino gambling as a business, and contributed to ushering in the era of corporate ownership of casinos.

Hoover Dam's Impact on Las Vegas

The United States government's construction of Hoover Dam, a hydroelectric and reservoir project started on the Colorado River in 1931, was one of the most important developments in Las Vegas history, dramatically affecting its population to the present.

Hacienda Hotel

By the mid-1950s, Warren "Doc" Bayley, a former travel writer and one-time farmer from Wisconsin, owned a small but profitable chain of motels under the name Hacienda in California. Bayley used a model unusual for the cut-rate motel room business, providing his patrons—mostly traveling motorists—with things like room service and bellhops. During the resort-building boom in Las Vegas, Bayley decided to try a similar approach on the Strip, this time adding a casino to the mix.

Guy McAfee

Born in Winfield, Kansas, in 1888, Guy McAfee eventually joined the Los Angeles Police Department. He rose to the rank of vice squad captain in his twenties and became acquainted with the proprietors of nightclubs, illegal gambling operations, and brothels.

McAfee eventually decided he could make more money in vice and left the police department to run nightclubs. By the 1920s, while liquor was banned during Prohibition, he established himself as a businessman on the Sunset Strip in West Los Angeles, a nightclub district where illegal alcohol was served discreetly.

Flamingo Hotel

The opening of the Flamingo Hotel in late 1946 signaled the beginning of the modern era of Las Vegas hotel-casinos on Highway 91, later known as the Strip. The Flamingo set a new standard of luxury for hotel guests and became the first of many stylish casino resorts constructed on the Strip after World War II.

El Rancho Vegas

In Las Vegas in the late 1930s, when casino gambling was concentrated on Fremont Street downtown, a number of would-be casino developers speculated about the potential of building a casino resort outside of town on Highway 91, where increasing numbers of tourists were arriving from Los Angeles and elsewhere.

Dunes Hotel

One of the venerated original properties associated with the Las Vegas Strip, the Dunes Hotel opened during a mid-1950s casino building boom, and soon became one of its casualties. Over the next four decades, the controversial Dunes would survive a succession of owners, allegations of hidden mob ownership, and marginal profits before it was destroyed to make way for several Las Vegas resorts including the $2 billion Bellagio Hotel.

Desert Inn

Wilbur Clark was operating several bars and a hotel in San Diego, California in 1944 when he learned that the El Rancho Vegas hotel-casino on the emerging Las Vegas Strip was up for sale. Clark, who for years had his eye on running a casino, sold his interests and moved to Las Vegas.

Clark's Las Vegas Townsite Auction

The birth of downtown Las Vegas took place during a land auction on Monday, May 15, 1905, when 1,200 lots in an area called Clark's Las Vegas Townsite were offered for sale. The townsite was named after U.S. Senator William Clark of Montana, who had purchased the 1,800-acre Stewart Ranch from area pioneer rancher Helen J. Stewart in 1902.

Central States, Southeast, Southwest Areas Pension Fund

Once nicknamed "the mob's bank," the Teamsters Union's Central States, Southeast, Southwest Areas Pension Fund, based in Chicago, played a major—and infamous—role in the rapid expansion of the Las Vegas hotel-casino industry following World War II. From 1958 to 1977, the pension fund's almost $250 million worth of low-interest loans to casino developers, many with ties to organized crime, brought unprecedented growth to the Las Vegas Strip and the city's downtown.


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