LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Locals hate the title, but it has held up for years and years: “Sin City.” What most people don't know is the story behind the unbreakable nickname Las Vegas. For many, especially tourists and outsiders, the reference is obvious. Soon, prostitution and other shady businesses began to grow in the area. Due to male-centered entertainment and rising crime rates, Las Vegas earned its famous nickname Sin City in the early 1930s.
The name Sin City focuses mainly on the fact that Las Vegas is a playground for adults, with gambling, choristers and alcohol. The first reference to “Sin City”, according to several experts, is in the 1963 book “Las Vegas, City of Sin? of then-casino executives Pat Howell and Dick Taylor. Even when Nevada banned gambling in 1910, illegal casinos continued operating secretly until 1931, when they became legal again. It used to be the case that people didn't grow up in Las Vegas, they stayed for a few months or years and then moved to the next city.
But for those who make the Las Vegas Valley their home, calling the sprawling metropolis Sin City is an insult. During that time, Las Vegas gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky had a monopoly on the hotel and casino industry. Block companies broke laws, operated illegal casinos, and served alcohol through Prohibition. The vices that made Block 16 what it once was are still alive and well today in Las Vegas.
Block 16 was a famous red light district in Sin City that experienced its infamous glory days until the United States Army closed it in 1941.The thrill that Las Vegas offered at the time went from the NSFW to full live entertainment that catered to a wide demographic group. However, prostitution, which is illegal in Clark County, isn't the only reason Las Vegas earned its nickname. This easy access to a major vice and to a relatively cheap market made Las Vegas the center of “sin” during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1950s, gangsters founded Riviera, Desert Inn and Stardust, all of which were demolished to make way for new casino projects.
Nowadays, you'll see an increasing number of locals who have lived in the city for decades or who were born and raised in the so-called City of Sin. Although Las Vegas is nothing like Sin City, where it got its name from, the phrase serves as a reminder of when Las Vegas was a playground for adults. Block 16 flourished during the early days of the game in Las Vegas, while Block 17 sold alcoholic beverages to workers and travelers. With a dramatic leap in the stratosphere, Las Vegas became a stage for internationally renowned artists to showcase their talent, including stars such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
That's when hotel casinos, such as the Fremont Hotel and the Northern Club, opened their doors with addictive slot machines, bars and showrooms.