…Stays in Vegas. Sin City, home to bedazzling neon nights, glitzy casinos, colossal hotels and parties until dawn, is like a great undertow pulling its visitors back in every time they think they’re finally free. This glorious, chaotic, colourful, non-stop action place that has made thousands go bankrupt has a pretty interesting ensemble of myths, legends, facts and stories. Let’s find out more about Vegas!
Between 1952-1962, over 100 nuclear bombs were detonated at the Nevada Test site (104 km from Vegas) before the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was accepted. Then, Vegas could not attract many tourists from across the world although it housed several casinos. So, they came up with ‘atomic tourism’: Vegas postcards stated the ‘Up and Atom City’, showgirls had hairdos that resembled mushroom clouds, restaurants had atomic themes and viewing parties took place at the rooftops of casinos where the tourists could see the artificial sun created by the nuclear bombs as the ground shook beneath their feet.
THE SECRET TUNNEL CITY
Most visitors do not know the secret city that exists right below their feet. About a 1000 people live in the massive tunnel system (966 km) that runs under Vegas city. The tunnels were designed as a pluvial system of the city. The homeless and those who lost everything gambling were the ones who took shelter in the tunnels, and they have gotten used to living in pitch black spaces; many have also found their better halves in the tunnels and try to live a normal life having day time jobs and decorating their place with prized possessions. But they always have to live cautiously, as the tunnel could get flooded very fast.
Area 51, America’s most secretive military facility located in Central Nevada, is USA’s top-secret test site and many believe it is where they reverse engineer and study UFOs. Whatever be the true purpose of area 51, it is true that hundreds of civilian contractors are employed there and most of them reside in – where else – Las Vegas. The federal government realized it was not feasible to ask them to drive to work for 8 hours every day and so they introduced unmarked Boeing 737s and 727s to shuttle the employees to and from work. These planes leave from a restricted terminal at McCarran International Airport and are unofficially called ‘Janet Airlines’.
THE LEGEND OF HOWARD HUGHES
Wealthy businessman & aviator Howard Hughes arrived in Vegas in 1966 and decided to stay at the penthouse suite of the Desert Inn Hotel & Casino. After surpassing several months of his initial reservation, he was requested to leave by the hotel management. Humiliated, he decided to buy the hotel instead, for a whopping $13 million. He then went on a hotel buying spree, purchasing Castaways, the Landmark, New Frontier, the Sands, the Silver Slipper and Harold’s Club thus beginning the end of the long ongoing mob rule and bringing in the ownership of casinos by corporate conglomerates who began building the themed megaresorts which Vegas is so famous for, today. Unfortunately, his severe OCD problem took a toll on him and he remained secluded in his penthouse at the Desert Inn, collecting his bodily fluids in jars and rarely bathing. He finally died 10 years later, in 1976, weighing only 42 kgs.
When Howard Hughes began staying at the Desert Inn, he requested a bulk shipment (757 litres) of Baskin Robbins’ Banana Nut ice-cream. A few days later, he announced that he would only eat Chocolate Marshmallow ice-cream. The Inn distributed free Banana Nut ice-cream for a year.
Since early 1900s, Nevada was known as a place where getting a divorce was a relatively quick affair. Las Vegas embraced this concept further and introduced even quicker marriages. Las Vegas is now the marriage capital of the US with roughly 315 marriages taking place every day. All you need is a driver’s license/passport, 20 mins and $55 in cash (additional $5 for card payment) to officially be married – there is no waiting period or a blood test. A subsequent divorce, though, would set you back by $450!
Another interesting titbit about Vegas is that the casinos there have adopted certain policies to increase the sense of freedom of the gamblers… to disconnect them from reality and thus, make them gamble more. So beware, and don’t fall into their trap:
- There are no windows or clocks in the casinos so you don’t know whether it’s night or day.
- They serve free alcohol as it would loosen up people and make them gamble more
- The casinos are designed like mazes…so you cannot find your way out.
The night before I left Las Vegas I walked out in the desert to look at the moon. There was a jeweled city on the horizon, spires rising in the night, but the jewels were diadems of electric and the spires were the neon of signs ten stories high. ~Norman Mailer
Las Vegas is full of interesting people, interesting sights and interesting facts like these! Although seemingly an adult holiday destination, there are a lot of fun family activities to do here too! And if you do decide to commit some ‘sin’ here, remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain