The original 13-square mile site where Henderson began was close to becoming a ghost town after the end of World War II. But what started off as a worker’s settlement held strong and became a booming city in Nevada. In 1931, what is now Hoover Dam began construction near the area? It was called Jericho Heights, and this early settlement was comprised of dam workers.
The small village of dam laborers altered over the course of construction. The year 1932 brought important changes for the fledgling town. Formerly known as Jericho Heights, the area that is now Henderson became Midway City. The city began to grow, and the first school district opened the same year. Construction on the dam continued until 1935.
In 1941, Basic Magnesium Inc. built an industrial plant in what would become known as Henderson the next year. The city was named in tribute to U.S. Senator Charles Belknap Henderson. When the Basic Magnesium industrial plant opened in 1942, it was just what the town needed to boost the population. The plant’s peak employment was around 14,000 workers. The city of Henderson was home to these workers and their families through the end of the war.
The year 1945 brought uncertainty to the city. With the end of WWII, the war department’s need for magnesium fizzled. Henderson was viewed as war surplus and prepared for sale. At this time, the city had become quite well equipped. There was now a library, secondary school, post office, industrial plant, hospital, and widespread residential housing communities. Eventually, the Colorado River Commission of Nevada was authorized to buy the city of Henderson.
Prosperity on the Rise
The 1950s were a time of tremendous growth for Henderson. First, what were formerly government houses were purchased for private use. After Basic Management took control of the industrial plant, the area became a haven for many other companies, such as Kerr McGee Chemical Corporation, Chemstar Lime Inc., and Titanium Metals Corporation.
In 1950, the city had an estimated population of 5,717. It was officially incorporated in 1953, with a population of around 7,410 people. By 1954, the U.S. Census proclaimed Henderson, Nevada as the nation’s fastest-growing city. The last year of the decade marked the opening of the Black Mountain Golf and Country Club.
The next decade started off strong for Henderson. The city’s high school football team won the state AA championship. Unfortunately, it would be the school’s only title win. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy granted the city an additional 15,000 acres, doubling the city’s size. When President Kennedy visited the city that year, he named it a “city of destiny”. This would soon prove to be true.
The small-town, blue-collar atmosphere of Henderson remained until the housing boom of the 1980s. By the 1990s, the city had more than doubled its population. By the end of the decade, Henderson became the city with the second highest population in the state.
Today, Henderson is a treasure of entertainment and recreational facilities. It has a population of around 320,189 people. Just 16 miles from Las Vegas, this gateway to Southern Nevada has not only survived, it has learned to thrive.
If you’re in Henderson and you want to get down to Mexico for a getaway, the drive is easy and quick. See our article here for directions from Nevada to Mexico, and don’t forget to get your Mexican Insurance online before you go!