Boulder City was developed in the desert out of a need to house workers contracted to build Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) on the Colorado River. The Bureau of Reclamation selected the site for the dam in 1930, and workers set up tents along the river. Boulder City would become an example of a town planned under government supervision. Today, it is a thriving city with small-town appeal. Yet, with all that history, there are also undisclosed facts and unknown realities.
Below are our five reasons to visit Boulder City to explore these secrets and fun facts.
Boulder Theatre was built in the 1930s and could accommodate up to 550 people to get lost in the movies in air-conditioned comfort (the only place in town for years). Desi Arnaz, Jr. (son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Sr.) purchased the theater in 1997 and lovingly restored it for live performances. The Dam Short Film Festival has been held at the venue for years, with the next festival planned for Feb. 16-20. The secrets of the theater can be felt during events, along with its rich history.
In the Academy Award winning movie La La Land, Boulder City is the hometown of one of the leads, Amelia “Mia” Dolan (played by Emma Stone) who moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming a movie star. There are scenes where Mia returns “home” to Boulder City where the home is said to be across the street from the library where her aunt used to take her as a child to watch classic movies. The secret is that all of those scenes were filmed in Los Angeles. So check out the library and surrounding beautiful homes in Boulder City, understanding that they were not part of the movie.
The Fisher Space Pen is known to many people as the pen that can write in space, including upside down, and is small enough to fit in a pocket. Paul C. Fisher developed it, opening the factory in Boulder City. The television show Seinfeld featured “The Pen” as the 20th episode of its third season. Debuting on the Apollo 7 mission in 1968, Fisher Space Pen has been on every NASA manned space flight since. Fisher Space Pen also has its own permanent exhibit inside the Apollo / Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center. Its factory store is open to the public to learn about the secrets of this amazing invention.
Boulder Dam Hotel and Cleveland’s The Lounge
Built in 1933 to accommodate visitors to the construction of Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam), the historic Boulder Dam Hotel preserves the charm of the early 20th century with the amenities of the 21st century. The boutique-style hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the location of the Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum. One secret of the hotel is that movie stars and other celebrities would stay there to establish Nevada residency for six weeks so they could obtain a quick divorce. Another secret about the hotel is that a bar was built underground to keep the room cool and give it that speakeasy vibe. Today it is open as Cleveland’s The Lounge, rich in an old school, rat-pack kind of feel, with excellent finishes and details with a full bar, wine and beer.
Boulder City Public Art Scape brought art and history to its streets, displaying more than 30 eclectic sculptures throughout the area. The Boulder City Chamber of Commerce and artist Lee Lanier have created a walking guide to the murals and sculptures. One of the honored people is “Alabam,” one of the unsung workers who worked on Boulder Dam cleaning the outhouses of the vast construction sites. Artist and sculptor Steven Liguori immortalizes him sweeping refuse. This is one of the many unsung heroes, who were secret before, now honored in Boulder City.
Download the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce App to any smartphone for a step-by-step tour and an in-depth look at each sculpture and mural. (Links for which can be found by clicking here.) All are walking and driving tours; history walks, adventure tours, and retail tours can also be found in the app.
Boulder City is the perfect place to explore the history and discover the secrets of the charming small town. The winter temperatures remain mild, and it is easy to reach from any point in Nevada.
Members of the editorial and news staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal were not involved in the creation of this content.