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The Paleo Indians first visited the Las Vegas valley thousands of years ago, and left petroglyphs of their early history that can still be seen in The Valley of Fire State Park. Two thousand years ago, the Anansazi Indians and the Pauite came to the valley.

In 1829, Rafael Rivera scouted the area. Finding a valley with wild grasses and a plentiful supply of water, the valley was named Las Vegas, which is Spanish for "The Meadows."

In 1864, Nevada was admitted into the union as the 36th State. The State Land Act of 1885 sold land for $1.25 per acre, and agriculture was the dominant industry until the 1880's. In the 1900's, the main railway between southern California and Salt Lake City was brought by William Clark to Las Vegas and made Las Vegas a railroad town.

On May 15, 1905, Las Vegas was founded as a city when 110 acres of land were auctioned off. Las Vegas was incorporated on March 16, 1911, and the population was 800. In 1911, divorce laws were liberalized, and "quickie" divorces could be obtained after six weeks of residency. The Hoover Dam construction was begun in 1931, starting a population boom of workers, and helping the economy during the Great Depression. It was completed in 1935.

Although gambling had taken place illegally for many years, the state legislature legalized it in March 1931. At that time, it was a local entertainment, appealing to cowboys and ranch hands in Reno on weekends. In Las Vegas, the El Rancho and the Last Frontier casinos catered to army recruits.

In 1943, Bugsy Siegel was sent to Las Vegas by Meyer Lansky and Frank Costello, the heads of New York organized crime. With money made from the Cuban casinos, they financed the Flamingo, the first world class resort in Las Vegas. Siegel was killed on 6/20/47 for skimming funds, and the New York mobs seized control of the Flamingo. Other casino hotels sprouted up, controlled by the mob, offering top-name entertainment .

In 1951, the Moulin Rouge was the first racially integrated hotel to open.

In 1957, the first topless showgirls debuted at Minsky's Follies.

In 1959, the Nevada Gaming Commission was created.

In the 1960's, Howard Hughes led the building and buying of hotels and casinos by corporations. "Gaming" started the transition into legitimate business.

In the 1980's, prosecutions of mobsters from Chicago, Cleveland, and Kansas City, assisted Steve Wynn in ridding Las Vegas of the gangster elements.

In 2000, the population of Las Vegas was 478,434 over 113 square miles.

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