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The making of Sin City: Photographs of Las Vegas 1906-1970s


Las Vegas, the most heavily populated city of Nevada, has lived a fast and thrilling existence.

While the area took its name from the Spanish phrase ‘the meadows’ back in 1821 by Rafael Rivera, the city and its Urbanisation didn’t begin until 1902 before fully kicking into gear around 1905. In 1911 the city was incorporated as part of Clark County. With the influx of young male workers heading to the area for the construction of the Hoover Dam in 1931, casino gambling was legalised in the area and the mafia worked their magic. ‘The Strip’, as it is widely known now, began to fill up with theatres and casinos built largely by those of organised crime as hotels soon followed.

The years that would follow would set the tone for Sin City. Surviving the war, Vegas would enjoy a huge boom for a decade on from 1946 and become something it resembles today… and what does that resemble today? Well, it may be easier to let Hunter S. Thompson summarise why one might feel inclined to take up some much-needed debauchery in the Nevada desert: “Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas,” he wrote with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, “with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether,” he added.

With Thompson’s words ringing in your ears, here’s how the city was built in a series of images from the past referenced by the good people of Flashback:

(All images sourced from Flashback)