Las Vegas is world-famous for its glitzy hotels and casinos that line the neon-lit Strip. But did you know that the very first hotel in Vegas was actually quite modest compared to today’s elaborate resorts?
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The first hotel built in Las Vegas was the Hotel Nevada, opened in 1906.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive into the full history of that very first Vegas hotel. You’ll learn about the early days of Las Vegas as a dusty railroad town, how the Hotel Nevada came to be built, what it was like inside, and what ultimately happened to it.
We’ll also discuss some of the other very early hotels that popped up in Vegas shortly after the Hotel Nevada, setting the stage for the city’s rise to a gambling mecca.
The Founding of Las Vegas as a Rail Stop
LAS VEGAS SPRINGS – A REST STOP FOR TRAVELERS
Before the glitz and glamour that Las Vegas is known for today, the city had humble beginnings as a small stop along the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. In the early 1900s, Las Vegas Springs served as a vital rest stop for travelers making their way through the desert.
The natural springs provided a much-needed source of water for both people and livestock, making it an ideal spot to take a break and refuel before continuing their journey.
As word spread about the refreshing springs, more and more travelers began to frequent the area. This influx of visitors led to the development of small businesses, such as a general store and a few rudimentary accommodations for those seeking shelter.
The demand for a proper hotel soon became evident, marking the beginning of Las Vegas’ transformation into a bustling city.
THE 1905 RAILROAD AUCTION THAT PUT LAS VEGAS ON THE MAP
In 1905, a pivotal event occurred that would forever change the trajectory of Las Vegas. The Union Pacific Railroad decided to auction off plots of land in the newly established townsite of Las Vegas. This auction attracted a diverse range of buyers, from speculators looking to make a quick profit to individuals seeking a fresh start in a promising new location.
The auction was a resounding success, with parcels of land selling at impressive prices. This influx of capital injected much-needed funds into the growing community, allowing for the construction of essential infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and, of course, hotels.
The first hotel built in Las Vegas, appropriately named the Hotel Nevada, was completed in 1906 and quickly became a popular destination for travelers passing through the area.
Today, the Hotel Nevada still stands as a testament to the rich history and pioneering spirit of Las Vegas. While the city has undoubtedly evolved since its early days as a rail stop, the founding of Las Vegas as a rest stop for weary travelers remains an integral part of its history.
For more information, you can visit https://www.lvcva.com/ for detailed information about the history of Las Vegas and its transformation into the world-famous destination it is today.
The Opening of the Hotel Nevada in 1906
In 1906, a significant event took place in the history of Las Vegas – the opening of the Hotel Nevada. Located on Fremont Street, it was the first hotel to be built in what would later become downtown Las Vegas. The grand opening of the hotel marked the beginning of a new era for the city.
Fremont Street Becomes Downtown Vegas
Prior to the construction of the Hotel Nevada, Fremont Street was a quiet area with little development. However, with the opening of the hotel, it became the epicenter of downtown Las Vegas. The hotel’s prime location, coupled with its luxurious amenities, attracted visitors from all over the country.
The Hotel Nevada played a significant role in the growth and transformation of Fremont Street into the bustling entertainment district that it is today. The hotel’s success paved the way for the development of other hotels, casinos, and entertainment venues in the area.
Amenities and Offerings of the Hotel Nevada
When the Hotel Nevada opened its doors, it offered a range of amenities and offerings that were considered revolutionary for the time. The hotel boasted over 100 rooms, each equipped with modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing and electricity.
Guests could enjoy fine dining at the hotel’s restaurant, which served a variety of cuisines to cater to different tastes. The hotel also had a bar and lounge area where visitors could relax and socialize.
One of the key attractions of the Hotel Nevada was its rooftop garden, which provided a picturesque view of the city. The garden was a popular spot for guests to unwind and enjoy the fresh air.
Additionally, the hotel featured a casino, where visitors could try their luck at various games of chance. This added to the allure of the Hotel Nevada as a destination for entertainment and excitement.
The Hotel’s Heyday in the Early 20th Century
The first hotel built in Las Vegas holds a significant place in the city’s history. During its heyday in the early 20th century, the hotel experienced several expansions and renovations, attracting visitors from near and far.
Expansions and Renovations Over the Years
The hotel underwent several expansions and renovations to accommodate the growing number of guests. In the 1920s, an additional wing was added to the original structure, doubling its capacity. This expansion included the addition of modern amenities such as private bathrooms and air conditioning, which were considered luxurious at the time.
As Las Vegas continued to evolve, the hotel underwent further renovations in the 1940s and 1950s. The interior was modernized with stylish decor, and the hotel’s exterior was given a fresh coat of paint, giving it a more vibrant and inviting look.
These renovations helped to attract even more visitors, cementing the hotel’s status as a premier destination in Las Vegas.
Throughout the years, the hotel continued to expand its offerings. Additional floors were added to accommodate the growing demand for rooms, and new entertainment venues were built to provide guests with a wide range of entertainment options.
These expansions and renovations not only enhanced the hotel’s reputation but also contributed to the overall growth and development of Las Vegas as a tourist destination.
Visitors and Notable Guests
The hotel’s heyday in the early 20th century attracted a diverse range of visitors, from celebrities to politicians and everyday tourists. Its prime location and reputation for luxury made it a popular choice among travelers looking to experience the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas.
Over the years, the hotel played host to numerous notable guests, including famous entertainers, such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe. These celebrities often performed at the hotel’s iconic showroom, drawing large crowds and adding to the hotel’s allure.
Politicians and world leaders also frequented the hotel during their visits to Las Vegas. It served as a meeting place for important discussions and negotiations, further solidifying its place in history as a hub for both entertainment and diplomacy.
Today, the hotel stands as a testament to the rich history of Las Vegas and its transformation into a world-renowned tourist destination. While it may have undergone changes over the years, its legacy as the first hotel in Las Vegas remains an important part of the city’s heritage.
The Decline and Closing of the Hotel Nevada
The Great Depression Hurts Business
The Hotel Nevada, the first hotel built in Las Vegas, enjoyed years of success and popularity after its grand opening in 1906. However, like many businesses during the Great Depression, the hotel faced significant challenges that eventually led to its decline and eventual closure.
The economic downturn of the 1930s resulted in a severe decrease in tourism and a decline in disposable income for many Americans. As a result, the hotel experienced a sharp decline in bookings and struggled to generate enough revenue to cover its operating costs.
The Hotel Nevada, like other businesses in Las Vegas, was heavily dependent on the tourism industry. With fewer visitors coming to the city and less money being spent on entertainment and accommodations, the hotel’s financial situation became increasingly dire.
It became clear that something needed to be done in order to save the hotel from bankruptcy.
Competition from the Strip
As if the challenges brought on by the Great Depression weren’t enough, the Hotel Nevada also faced increasing competition from newer and more extravagant hotels that were being built on the Las Vegas Strip.
These new hotels offered amenities and attractions that the Hotel Nevada simply couldn’t match, which further contributed to its decline.
The opening of the Flamingo Hotel in 1946, owned by infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel, marked a turning point in the history of Las Vegas. The Flamingo Hotel was the first luxury hotel and casino on the Strip and set a new standard for opulence and entertainment.
Its success attracted even more investment and development on the Strip, with hotels like the Sahara, the Sands, and the Riviera quickly following suit.
These newer hotels offered larger rooms, state-of-the-art facilities, and high-profile entertainment acts, luring visitors away from the once-popular Hotel Nevada. As a result, the hotel struggled to attract guests and generate enough revenue to stay afloat.
In 1955, after years of financial struggles, the Hotel Nevada was forced to close its doors for good. Its closure marked the end of an era for Las Vegas, but it also paved the way for the development of the iconic Strip that we know today.
While the Hotel Nevada may no longer be standing, its history and significance in the development of Las Vegas cannot be forgotten. It laid the foundation for the city’s transformation into a world-renowned entertainment destination, and its story serves as a reminder of the ever-changing nature of the hospitality industry.
Other Early Hotels of Las Vegas
The Sal Sagev (Las Vegas spelled backwards)
While the first hotel built in Las Vegas was the Hotel Nevada, there were several other early hotels that contributed to the city’s growth and development. One of these was The Sal Sagev, which is Las Vegas spelled backwards.
Originally built in 1906, it went through several name changes before becoming the iconic Golden Gate Hotel and Casino that stands today.
The Sal Sagev played a significant role in the history of Las Vegas, as it was one of the few hotels to survive the Great Depression. It was also the first hotel in Las Vegas to have a telephone, with the number 1.
This allowed guests to easily make reservations and stay connected with the outside world.
The Apache Hotel
Another notable early hotel in Las Vegas was The Apache Hotel. Built in 1932, it was one of the first hotels on Fremont Street and quickly became a popular destination for visitors. The Apache Hotel had a unique design, featuring Native American-inspired architecture and decor.
The hotel was known for its lively atmosphere, with a bustling casino and vibrant entertainment. It attracted both locals and tourists, offering a taste of the exciting nightlife that Las Vegas would become famous for.
Despite facing challenges during the Prohibition era, The Apache Hotel managed to thrive and contribute to the growth of the city.
For more information on the history of Las Vegas hotels, you can visit www.lvcva.com, the official website of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
As we’ve explored, while today’s Vegas is all about spectacle and extravagance, the very first hotel established there was relatively simple. The Hotel Nevada opened in 1906 as a dusty railroad town grew into a city.
For decades, it was the premier lodging establishment, undergoing renovations and expansion to bolster its offerings. But the rise of the Las Vegas Strip ultimately led to the Hotel Nevada’s decline and closure.
Though the original hotel is long gone, its legacy lives on in the city it helped establish. Las Vegas would not be what it is today without those very first pioneering hotels like the Nevada that set the foundation.
So next time you’re dazzled by the lavishness of today’s Vegas resorts, take a moment to reflect on the humble beginnings of lodging in Sin City. Even in its earliest days, Las Vegas was building towards the world-famous tourist destination it would eventually become, one hotel at a time.