What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Under the impression of this slogan many visitors believe that they can bring out their wild and uninhibited self while fulfilling their wildest imaginations and fantasies in Vegas, as no one would ever find out. For this reason many pilgrimage out to this oasis of sin and pleasure, as it would allow them to be completely free. The PBS documentary Las Vegas: An Unconventional History offers the audience a historical perspective to how Las Vegas has become the resort for personal desires.
Today, Las Vegas is a booming modern metropolitan city that is amidst a flowering period where money stream into the city through a constant flow of tourists. It has, ever since the completion of the railway that runs through Las Vegas, been a city friendly to strangers. However, the kindness towards strangers has always been reciprocal, as the city provides pleasures while the strangers dropped their hard earned money in a few minutes of hope and desire for something better. Through gambling and prostitution Las Vegas exchanged money for dreams with the visitors, and this is how people helped build this concrete giant.
Despite the banning of gambling, the bars and gambling spots continued to provide the service for the visitors. The building of the Hoover Dam and the development of the atomic bomb also helped boost the number of visitors to Las Vegas, as there was nothing else to do in the arid city than to drink booze, party, and gamble. Thus, the city became a hot spot for those who sought some escape from the hard reality outside its city limits. Soon the mafia world also discover this golden goose that simply was ready for the picking of anyone that knew the business, which lead to a migration of wise guys from Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Miami. The mobster Bugsy Siegel changed the future for Las Vegas by building the first luxurious hotel - The Flamingo Hotel - with all of the modern amenities including entertainment. Later the Rat Pack would also honor the city with its legendary performances.
The constant flow of money made many people willing to turn their eyes the other way, as politicians and other people of significance allowed hardcore crooks to become respectable businessmen in the desert city. However, the sweet dance could not go on forever, as politicians began to seek justice. In addition, the NAACP began to protest the Jim Crowe laws that were in place, which quickly were removed as it influence the flow of cash. Even the rich philanthropist Howard Hughes bought his way into Las Vegas when he was order an eviction, and his money was cleaner than his predecessors, which again made many close their eyes.
In Las Vegas: An Unconventional History, the audience gets to see the history while it also touches on many of the negative aspects of the city such as water shortage, overpopulation, gambling addiction, and its consequences. It is a clever narrative that follows a traditional linear approach while every now and then returning to present day through some interview with different aspects of the city. When it all comes together it is a very enlightening two part piece that stretches over three hours, which will offer the viewer a decent understanding of how Las Vegas grew up from first being a small railroad intersection to the gambling Mecca of the world.