WRITER: SHARON LETTS
Interestingly, Las Vegas translates to “the meadows,” despite the fact that it is now a barren valley. The last watering hole after the ice age’s glaciers melted, Vegas was once a lush, green valley that formed the pools of water that would ultimately flow through the Hoover Dam.
In the late 1930s, Thomas Hull, owner of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, had his eye on the desert and built the first casino in downtown Las Vegas. The fancy Western-themed El Cortez Hotel opened in 1941. At the time, Vegas was a weekend getaway from Los Angeles for rabble-rousers—a place to drink, gamble, and get a quick divorce.