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What makes Nevada great? The people.
The people have always been the best. And while there have always been other cities more like Vegas, there was never one like Vegas in the 19th century.
During the early 20th century, it was America’s most popular town, so great that the New York Times wrote about its “unquenchable vitality.”
But once Prohibition hit the U.S. two decades ago, the great people of Vegas took a nosedive. The city saw a 40 percent drop in real estate values from the late 1920s and into the 1930s. A host of things that made Vegas so popular in the 1880s and 1890s have long since disappeared: the great movie palaces, the casinos, even the hotel, spa and restaurant scene on Main Street.
“When you look at Las Vegas on a map, everything looks pretty much the same,” says Stephen J. Sizer, director of the Las Vegas Historical Society, a local institution that has been keeping a running guide of Las Vegas to modern day Las Vegas since 1976. “But you can’t tell that because Vegas on a map can’t tell the difference.”
Enlarge this image toggle caption David Becker/Getty Images David Becker/Getty Images
In a city with so many buildings, so many people and so many amenities, it’s hard to imagine how Vegas could stay so cool. But since the turn of the 19th century, the folks of Vegas have kept the flame of Vegas alive. To prove their point, Las Vegas and its many famous hotels have become the perfect setting for movies. And in fact, the city now hosts not just the country’s biggest, best-reviewed movies — it also boasts the first major Hollywood studio to set up shop in Nevada.
In 1875, The Great Northern Hotel opened in downtown Vegas with a big screen behind its front door. It was a small, but significant, milestone.
“That was in the era when theaters were all the rage,” says Sizer. “The Great Northern wasn’t a Broadway movie house, but it was the first movie house in Vegas.”
The story of how Vegas grew to have one of the largest movie houses in the country also began in 1875.
Enlarge this image toggle caption Courtesy of the City of Las Vegas Courtesy of the City of Las Vegas
The Great Northern Hotel, which is just north of Las Vegas, was built by
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