Las Vegas, the most populous city of Nevada, is often referred to as Sin City, the capital of gambling and untellable pleasures. The history – and the stories – surrounding this town is as colourful and lively as the flashy lights enlightening the city during its sleepless nights.
Founded in 1905, Las Vegas officially became a city in 1911 and soon after the gained the title of most densely populated American town established in the 20th century. Its wide renowned tolerance for adult entertainment attracted many different kind of human activities. Gambling became legal in the 1930s , but to turn the city in the players’ mecca today everybody knows it took the greedy imagination of the mafia.
Meyer Lansky has apparently been the first gangster to actually put in action his schemes upon the town. Al Capone is said to have thought about it, but never really acted. Lansky was Lucky Luciano’s partner, but wasn’t brave enough to take full responsibility of the enterprise. So he hired Bugsy Siegel to collect the interest end the investments from the whole criminal organization.
Siegel’s work resulted in the Flamingo, an aspiring hotel casino on the Las Vegas Strip opened in 1946 at a total cost of 6 million dollars. The resort was named after Siegel’s girlfriend Virginia Hill, nicknamed Flamingo because of her long, skinny legs. But a year after the official opening the casino had produced no revenue, draining instead huge amounts of money from its investors. Lansky charged his lieutenant with skimming from the building budget, and in 1947, while relaxing in his Hollywood bungalow, Bugsy Siegel was shot to death.
Blood and drama, thrilling confrontations and cold-blooded thugs. Few other cities in the world can boost such a reputation in modern times, and of course to its history many legends have been added to increase the fabulous reputation of the Sin City up to these days. But, after all, this town still lies in the middle of an amazing landscape, which offers many other things to do in Las Vegas to those not interested in gambling or mafia stories. About 25 kilometres outside the city is Red Rock Canyon with its scenic 20 kilometres drive, as well as many breathtaking trails for hikers and trekkers. And, last but not least, the Grand Canyon still is one of America’s most popular natural monuments, and a helicopter trip might be the best way to enjoy its beauty.