Boulder City’s sole reason to exist was the need to house the workers hired to build the Hoover Dam/Boulder Dam on the Colorado River. The town began as a Federal Company town and was built by the Bureau of Reclamation and Six Companies, Inc. The company assigned to build the massive project.
The sheer scale of the dam and the duration of the project required the Bureau of Reclamation to consider the construction of a semi-permanent town rather than a temporary arrangement. Boulder City was exceptionally rare as an example of a town fully planned under government supervision. Because the Hoover Dam project itself represented a focus for optimism for a country suffering from the effects of the Great Depression, the town itself was to be an additional manifestation of this optimism. There was to be an emphasis on a clean-living environment for dam workers. There was to be no gambling and no alcohol with the city limits.
The town was designed to house approximately 5,000 workers. The status of the workers on the Hoover Dam was reflected in their house sizes and locations. The most important employees had their residences on top of the hill nearer the apex. Managers were housed further down the hill, and dwellings for manual laborers were located furthest away from the public buildings and parks. The most radically modified portions of DeBoer’s plan were in these lower-class residential blocks, where open space and parks were largely eliminated.
Boulder City maintains strict controls on growth, limited to 120 single- or multi-family residential building permits for new construction per year. Hotels are also restricted to no more than 35 rooms. These restrictions are defined in the city code of Boulder City. Alcohol is allowed, yet gambling is illegal. There are no casinos within the city limits
During the years of lobbying leading up to the passage of legislation authorizing the dam in 1928, the press generally referred to the dam as “Boulder Dam” or as “Boulder Canyon Dam”, even though the proposed site had shifted to Black Canyon. The Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928 (BCPA) never mentioned a proposed name or title for the dam. The BCPA merely allows the government to “construct, operate, and maintain a dam and incidental works in the main stream of the Colorado River at Black Canyon or Boulder Canyon”.
- Bureau of Reclamation chooses the precise site for the dam
- Dutch-born urban architect Saco Rienk de Boer who was contracted by the Bureau of Reclamation submits his plans for a modern town 5 miles from the proposed Dam site
- Construction of Boulder City begins
- A gatehouse is installed at the entrance to Boulder City. Entrance into the town was by permit only
- The Boulder Theatre opened, seating 550. It was the only building in town that had that new invention called air conditioning
- Six Companies payroll tops 3,000 workers
- June 6, the first bucket of concrete was poured at the dam
- Six Companies payroll tops out at 5,251
- May 29, the final bucket of concrete was poured at the dam
- September 30, President Franklin Delano Rosevelt dedicates the dam as “Boulder Dam”
- Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule
- The federal government relinquishes control of the town and Boulder City is incorporated
- Boulder City holds an incorporation ceremony on July 4, 1960
- Boulder City allows alcohol sales. Gambling is still illegal within city limits
- Congress authorizes the naming of the dam to be “Hoover Dam”
- Boulder City population: 15,023