Las Vegas, fondly known as “Sin City,” is a world-renowned destination known for its vibrant nightlife, bustling casinos, and breathtaking entertainment. However, there is much more to Vegas than meets the eye.
Here are seven intriguing tidbits that delve beneath the city’s neon-lit surface:
1. Birthplace of a Famous Phrase: The saying, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” did not arise organically from spontaneous city lore but was the brainchild of a calculated marketing campaign. Launched in 2003, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority alongside R&R Partners introduced this slogan, initially as “what happens here, stays here,” intending to reposition Vegas as a haven for those seeking uninhibited fun.
2. The Illusory Strip: Surprisingly, the iconic Las Vegas Strip doesn’t lie within the city boundaries of Las Vegas. This world-renowned entertainment epicenter is nestled just south of the city limits, in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester, Nevada. Historian Michael Green explains that many of the flagship casinos of the 1950s were purposefully constructed in county territory, mainly to sidestep municipal taxes and fees.
3. The Sinatra Silence: The death of Frank Sinatra, an influential figure in Las Vegas history, caused the city to pause and reflect. Upon the singer’s death, the casinos ceased spinning for a minute, honoring Sinatra’s pivotal role in combatting segregation within the city, along with his group, the Rat Pack, by boycotting venues that discriminated against black performers.
4. The Mormon Foundation: While today it might seem an unlikely marriage, Las Vegas was initially founded by Mormon missionaries. Their influence is a far cry from the city’s contemporary image, emphasizing the evolution Las Vegas has undergone since its establishment.
5. A Mob Lawyer Turned Mayor: Oscar Goodman, a former mayor of Las Vegas, was previously a defense attorney for infamous mob leaders, including Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro. Goodman’s notable career even landed him a cameo in the 1995 film “Casino,” where he played himself defending Robert De Niro’s character.
6. Atomic Tourism: In a bizarre twist, atomic tests became a tourist attraction in 1950s Las Vegas. Authorities broadcasted detonation times and suggested optimal viewing locations for the imposing flash and mushroom cloud, located just 65 miles away from the bomb test site. Casinos capitalized on this unique spectacle, offering “atomic cocktails” and “Dawn Bomb Parties” while flaunting their panoramic north-facing views.