‘Las Vegas is the only town’: Poetic visions from the dawn of Las Vegas

Custom Search 2

<p>This picture was taken in 1906, the year the original Union Pacific depot was completed in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AP Photo)</p>

While researching his monthly almanac for CityLife, Chip Mosher happened across these anonymous poems published a hundred years ago in The Las Vegas Age. Struck by their optimism, sense of destiny and, in some cases, forehadowing — if not necessarily their literary merit — we offer them as a glimpse into the other end of the city’s history.


You talk about your states and towns

All over the U.S.

And all about the minerals,

The Wheat and corn, I guess;

But in Nevada there’s a town —

Las Vegas is the name,

Which skins all of your Eastern towns

For beauty and for fame.

The town is only four years old

And has some buildings grand:

The streets are wide and well paved too

With asphalt, not with sand.

Restaurants, hotels, saloons galore,

They are all open wide

On week days, Sundays, holidays

And some all night beside.

The ice plant — finest in the west,

The stores all up-to-date;

The churches scattered everywhere;

Farmers from every state;

For we have good artesian wells

To irrigate the land,

And everything will grow out here

As by a magic hand.

Now boost! don’t knock, and you will see

Us grow from day to day,

Until the town shall spread its wings,

With colors bright and gay,

All over this great desert land,

The next few years to come.

Las Vegas is the only town —

Wake up and watch us hum.

— Anonymous, from The Las Vegas Age, Jan. 23, 1909


If you want to live in the kind of town

Like the kind of town you like,

You needn’t slip your clothes in a grip

And start on a long, long hike.

You’ll only find what you left behind,

For there’s nothing that’s really new.

It’s a knock at yourself when you knock your town;

It isn’t your town — it’s YOU!

Real towns are not made by men afraid

Lest somebody else gets ahead.

When everyone works and nobody shirks

You can raise a town from the dead.

And if while you make your personal stake

Your neighbor can make one, too,

Your town will be what you want to see;

It isn’t your town — it’s YOU!

— Anonymous, from The Las Vegas Age, Jan. 16,1915