• Home
  • Surprising Facts About Las Vegas You Might Not Know
Surprising Facts About Las Vegas You Might Not Know

Surprising Facts About Las Vegas You Might Not Know

Surprising Facts About Las Vegas You Might Not Know

February 23rd, 2023

Viva Las Vegas! The 4.2-mile strip of fun, partying and gambling has long upheld its nickname of Sin City. And it’s not hard to see why. In Las Vegas, almost anything goes, making it the top destination for adults to unwind and let their inhibitions run free.

As a teenager, I became obsessed with Las Vegas, mainly because my favourite band, The Killers, hailed from the city of lights. Exploring their music and its themes, I discovered the connections to this mysterious land of excess in the desolate Mohave desert. I was immediately drawn to the history, culture and attraction of Las Vegas, uncovering what entices 32 million visitors to the city each year.

With House of Coco’s mission to reveal the travel secrets of destinations around the globe, I jumped at the opportunity to share with you everything I know about the fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.

Grab your casino chips and cocktails as our show begins!

Here’s some surprising facts about Las Vegas you might not know…

Las Vegas: A Brief History of Culture

Cultural Influence Behind Las Vegas

  1. Las Vegas gets its name from the Spanish word meaning “the meadows”—a beautiful term for a location surrounded by sand and minimal greenery.
  2. Before Las Vegas became a gambling paradise, its main residents were the Native Americans who settled in the region almost 10,000 years ago. The main tribe to settle in Las Vegas were the Southern Paiute Tribe, who still reside there today.
  3. From the 1860s, the Southern Paiute Tribe suffered from the Mormons and silver miners taking their land.
  4. While the Southern Paiute Tribe number decreased, today, they still preserve their ancient cultures and customs with many successful businesses in tow. Some of these include smoke shops, golf courses and resorts.
  5. On the fourth of July, many tourists enjoy the Moapa Paiute’s incredible firework display at the Valley of Fire State Park.

Bugsy and Las Vegas

  1. Benjamin “Bugsy” Seigel - While not the father of Las Vegas, Bugsy’s mobster roots became the foundations on which the Las Vegas of today was built.
  2. Constructing the infamous Flamingo Hotel and Casino, Bugsy set a precedent for decadent escapism in the city.
  3. Unfortunately, The Flamingo Hotel was financed by Eastern Crime Syndicate Bosses - who weren’t too happy when their initial budget of $1.2 million surpassed almost $6 million.
  4. His once good friend and mobster Meyer Lansky was responsible for Bugsy’s early demise at the brutal age of 41. Bugsy was shot in his Beverly Hills home, and Lansky's associates stormed the Flamingo declaring it theirs.
  5. You can watch the gangster epic of Las Vegas in the 1991 movie Bugsy - however, take it with a pinch of salt as it’s highly fictionalised.
  6. The Flamingo Hotel still stands today - an emblem of what Las Vegas once was!

The Rise of Las Vegas and The Mob

  1. It may seem like an urban legend that Las Vegas was built by The Mob, but it is true!
  2. Before The Mob came to town, Las Vegas was little more than a two-lane dirt road with the odd hotel.
  3. The Mob commonly called the Las Vegas Mafia, instigated some of the most prolific hotels and casinos. Many of them are still standing today!
  4. It’s no wonder Las Vegas has a reputation for sin, given the strip as we know it today was somewhat funded by gangsters.
  5. Martin Scorsese, the king of gangster films, directed the 1995 tale of the Mafia in Las Vegas during the 1970s. Aptly named Casino, this fictional narrative gives you a flavour of what may or may not have happened in Sin City.
  6. Gambling was actually banned in Las Vegas in 1906, but in 1931, it was legalised once more, meaning casino construction could commence.

Showgirls, The Rat Pack and The King of Rock and Roll

  1. Las Vegas is one of the entertainment capitals of the world. In the 1950s and 1960s, The Sands Hotel and Casino became home to The Rat Pack. Famously starring Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, and Frank Sinatra, The Rat Pack epitomises Las Vegas entertainment.
  2. The feathers, the heels, and the mesmerising performances could only be the Las Vegas showgirls! Showgirls did not originate in Las Vegas, but many argue they were perfected there.
  3. The costumes and performances of showgirls were imported from France. The first showgirl performance in Las Vegas was called “Lido de Paris”, which opened at the Stardust Hotel in the late 1950s. Following its success, The Tropicana took note and opened its “Folies Bergere” show in 1959.
  4. Sadly, from the 1990s, the corporation of hotels and the excessive cost of the shows saw the demise of showgirl performances, including Jubilee, Casino de Paris and Lido de Paris.
  5. You’re unlikely to catch a showgirl performance these days, but like the many bizarre wonders on the strip, you’ll surely find someone clad in the attire parading the street.
  6. In 1969, Elvis Presley took up residency at the International Hotel, Las Vegas, where he would stay for 7 years. You can see an adaptation of his time in Vegas in the 2022 biopic Elvis.
  7. Today, Las Vegas becomes home to many mega stars each year, including Adele, Cher and Celine Dion. So you’re never too far from a dazzling show!

The Nevada Desert and Las Vegas in 2023

  1. Las Vegas and the Nevada Desert aren’t all about casinos. The Hoover Dam is one of the biggest tourist spots. Constructed in the 1930s, the wonder of the world is one of the most visited locations in Nevada.
  2. Is there another life out there? You might find out in Nevada! While conspiracy speculation surrounds the secretive Area 51 military base, it is a place of reality. What’s inside, we’ll likely never know!
  3. Because Las Vegas is steeped in history and ever-evolving, many old hotels and casinos have been updated or rebuilt. But where do their signs go? The Neon Museum! This graveyard of vintage signs still shines in the desert. It is a top spot for learning more about the history of Las Vegas.

Discover Las Vegas

There you have it - a brief history of Las Vegas and its culture. And this is only the tip of the iceberg! Each month, I’ll take you on a tour of Viva Las Vegas, from the best experiences, hotels and restaurants to the things you might not know and everything you must do while you visit.

And remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

Demi Aspey

Demi Aspey

Demi is an aspiring TV & Film writer who is currently studying for a PhD in screenwriting. She works as a freelance writer and loves exploring locations that have been made famous on our screens.