Raul Jusinto

McWilliams’ Townsite


McWilliams Townsite
Photograph of a group of men outside businesses in the McWilliams' Townsite, Las Vegas (Nev.), 1905. Helen J. Stewart Collection. UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives.

McWilliams Townsite
John Thomas McWilliams (1863-1941). Photograph of J. T. (John Thomas) McWilliams, Las Vegas, circa 1930s. Elbert Edwards Photo Collection. UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives.

Las Vegas Townsites
Aerial photograph of Las Vegas looking west, 1930. Ray Cutright Collection. UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives. Cropping and text layers added to original by Raul Jusinto.

McWilliams Townsite
Plat map of the Original Townsite of Las Vegas (Nev.), 1903. Southern Nevada The Boomtown Years. UNLV Libraries Special Collections & Archives.

McWilliams Las Vegas Townsite
This work, "McWilliams' Las Vegas Townsite", is a derivative of "Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada" by Ken Lund, used under CC BY-SA 2.0. "McWilliams' Las Vegas Townsite" is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 by Raul Jusinto.

Masjid As-Sabur
Masjid As-Subar is located in the McWilliams' Original Las Vegas Townsite (Plat 21).

St. James the Apostle Catholic Church
St. Luke's Episcopal Church is located in the McWilliams' Original Las Vegas Townsite (Plat 21).

Las Vegas Pioneer Trail Marker 6 reads:

Created by J.T. McWilliams in 1905, the Original Las Vegas Townsite was Las Vegas' first business and residential development.

J.T. McWilliams was hired to do survey work in and around the Las Vegas Valley for the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad in 1904, and later platted a townsite west of the railroad tracks. Located along the wagon road between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, the townsite became home to roughly 1,500 people who worked at nearby mines and other businesses. By 1905 there were numerous stores, bars, freighting companies, banks and a bakery.

Under direction of the owner, former Montana Senator William A. Clark, the railroad platted a townsite across the tracks to the south and east of McWilliams' Townsite. Wanting to control development, the railroad's land auction was held on May 15, 1905, threatening the future of the original townsite. Immediately after the auction, many businesses abandoned the area for the new Las Vegas Townsite. McWilliams' Townsite languished until four months later a fire destroyed much of the area.

Lacking basic amenities until the 1940s such as paved streets and a sewer system, the townsite never fully recovered to its glory days. Later additions expanded the "Westside," offering affordable housing for people who came to Las Vegas to build Hoover Dam, Henderson's Basic Magnesium Plant, or work in the hotels. Industrial development and a freeway have eliminated all but roughly half of the original townsite.

Located in Historic West Las Vegas.