Old Town in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Historic Plaza Hotel

Overlooking the Old Town Plaza, the Plaza Hotel was constructed in 1879.
It was a matter of pride for every railroad town to have a fine hotel in which to house visitors. Local businessmen headed by Don Benigno Romero formed the Plaza Hotel Company to provide Las Vegas with the finest hotel in the territory.

The hotel has a coloful history: it was home to early silent film producer Romaine Fielding in 1913, and the Mama Lucy Gang of liberal politicians in the 1960s.

More than a century after it was built, Plaza Partnership, Ltd., acquired the property and meticulously restored the hotel in 1982 as an object of civic pride. The hotel boasts a fine dining room and 36 guest rooms with private baths.

The fertile valley of Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Las Vegas Grandes - Las Vegas - was occupied as early as 8,000 B.C. by Paleo-Indicans, then by a succession of Pueblo Indians, various nomadic Native Americans and a succession of Spanish explorers, who passed through the area in the early 1500’s heading east in search of the fabled cities of gold.

In 1835, the Las Vegas land grant was awarded by the Mexican government.
A large plaza was laid out, surrounded by log and adobe houses, which formed a defensive enclosure into which livestock could be herded in case of attack.

Situated on the Sante Fe Trail, the first New Mexican settlement reached by supply trains headed west from the United States.

The Santa Fe Trail brought jobs and commercial activity to Las Vegas. The town's population expanded to over one thousand people by 1860. During the next twenty years its population continued to grow and the town became established as a major trading center - with bustling new businesses and residences springing up around the Plaza.

The railroad, which arrived in 1879 sparked further growth. Las Vegas' trade area now extended throughout all of eastern New Mexico from the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the Plains and into western Texas.

Although Las Vegas's economy prospered through 1905, it gradually encountered growing competition from other New Mexico towns as railroad expansion stimulated growth in Clovis, Tucumcari, Roswell and Carlsbad.

Las Vegas' prosperity then declined further as a result of a local agricultural depression in the mid-twenties, followed by the depression of the 1930’s.

Today, Las Vegas’ growth is sustained by its two largest employers, the Las Vegas Medical Center and New Mexico Highlands University.

Today, the Old Town Plaza and surrounding historic buildings retain the flavor of days gone by and blend with modern culture to continue the area’s rich heritage.

Surrounded on four sides by quaint historic buildings, the Plaza is the heart of Old Town in Las Vegas. The bandstand, erected in 1876, is the scene of many weddings and other social events.
The Plaza's towering trees provide welcome shade from the hot New Mexico sun.

The El Rialto is a popular Mexican
Restaurant & Lounge on Bridge Street in Old Town
The turn-of-the-century styled fountain in the corner Plaza Drug Store serves up old-fashioned ice cream sodas and other fountain drinks.
Bridge Street, lined with shops and restaurants, leads to the Plaza.