This week, I’m privileged to have a cover story in Vegas Seven. It’s about the mostly-unsung hotelier who, I think, is the real discoverer of the Las Vegas Strip, Thomas Hull:
The natural advantages of Las Vegas, Fisher said, would make it “the metropolis of Nevada,” but only if properly pushed: “If a good hotel man could be taken to Las Vegas and introduced to the wonderful winter weather, I believe that he could be interested in building a resort hotel that would put the little desert town on the map.”
More than 20 years would pass before that man—Thomas Hull—would arrive and change the place forever. This is his story.
A few thoughts: first, I’ve been researching and writing about the development of the Strip for about 15 years now, but in working on this feature I learned a few new things about Hull, so I think that even if you already know his story, you’ll find this an entertaining read.
Second, there are still plenty of people who don’t know anything about Hull, and think of Bugsy Siegel as the founder of the Strip, even though Hull opened his casino 5.5 years before the Flamingo, and the basic idea of a fancy Vegas hotel had been kicking around since 1918.
I think Columbus is a great analogy for Hull (not mine–I write the stories, not the headlines). Others had been on Highway 91 before, but Hull’s the one who built the resort that really put it on the map.
I really got inspired to write this feature by Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project. I saw some parallels: California entrepreneur courted to rescue Downtown Las Vegas who brings something new to town. Like Hull, I think that Hsieh may change the city in ways that aren’t apparent right now. They even have the same initials. As the Downtown Project plays out, I’m looking forward to learning and writing more about it. I’m very lucky to be in a city where I’ve got so much history unfolding around me.
The last thing I’d like to share is that it’s always a thrill to get a cover story, particularly when the cover art is as good as it is for this issue. It really means a great deal to me knowing that the editorial staff has enough faith in my writing to trust me with the cover feature. And if you like the story, a good deal of the credit goes to my editor Greg Blake Miller, who helped me revise, rework, and refine the story. He’s a great writer who’s also a great editor, and his help in getting this story into its final state was invaluable.