Las Vegas ( ; ) is the most
populous city in the U.S.
state of Nevada, the seat of
County, and an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling,
dining, and entertainment.
Las Vegas, which bills itself as The Entertainment Capital
of the World
, is famous for the number of casino
resorts and associated entertainment. A
growing retirement and family city, it is the 28th most populous
in the United States with an estimated population by the
U.S. Census Bureau
of 558,383 as of 2008. The
estimated population of the Las Vegas metropolitan area
of 2008, was 1,865,746.
Established in 1905, Las Vegas officially became a city in 1911.
growth that followed, at the close of the century Las Vegas was the
most populous American city founded in the 20th century (a
distinction held by Chicago in the 19th
The city's tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment
earned it the title
of Sin City
, and this image
has made Las Vegas a popular setting for films
and television programs
. On the
other hand, Las Vegas also has the highest number of churches per
capita of any major U.S. city. Outdoor lighting displays are everywhere on
the Las Vegas
Strip and are seen elsewhere in the city as well.
As seen from space, the Las Vegas metropolitan area is the
brightest city on Earth.
The name Las Vegas
is often applied to unincorporated areas
that surround the
city, especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip.
stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard
is mainly in the unincorporated communities of Paradise and Winchester, and continues partly into unincorporated Enterprise.
The first reported visit to the valley by someone of European
descent was Raphael Rivera
was named by Spaniards in the Antonio Armijo
party, who used the water in the area while heading north and west
along the Old Spanish
Trail from Texas.
the 1800s, areas of the Las Vegas
that supported extensive green areas or meadows
), hence the name Las
John C. Frémont traveled into the Las Vegas
Valley on May 3, 1844, while it was still part of Mexico.
was a leader of a group of scientists
and observers for the United States Army Corps
. On May 10, 1855, following annexation by the United States, Brigham Young
assigned 30 missionaries of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints led by William Bringhurst to
the area to convert the Paiute Indian population to
Mormonism. A fort was built near the current downtown area, serving
as a stopover for travelers along the "Mormon Corridor" between Salt
Lake and the briefly thriving colony of saints at
However, Mormons abandoned Las Vegas in
1857. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town
on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres
(44.5 ha) owned by the San Pedro, Los Angeles and
Salt Lake Railroad
, was auctioned off in what is now downtown Las Vegas
. Among the railroads
most notable owners and directors were Montana Senator William
and R.C. Kerens of St. Louis.
The land was auctioned off in what is now
downtown Las Vegas
. Las Vegas was part of
County until 1909 when it became part of the newly
The St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church near
4th and Bridger in downtown was founded in 1910. Las Vegas became
an incorporated city
on March 16, 1911 and
was the first mayor.
Las Vegas started as a stopover on the pioneer trails to the west,
and became a popular railroad
town in the
early 1900s. It was a staging point for all the mines in the
surrounding area, especially those around the town of Bullfrog,
that shipped their goods out to the rest of the country.
proliferation of the railroads, Las Vegas became less important but
the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam in 1935 resulted in the growth of residents and
tourism. The dam, located southeast of the city, also
Mead, the world's largest man-made lake and reservoir.
Today, tours are offered into
lesser known parts of the dam. The legalization of gambling in 1931
led to the advent of the casino-hotels, for which Las Vegas is
famous. Major development occurred in the 1940s. The success of the
city's early casino businesses was owed to American organized crime
. Most of the original large
casinos were managed or at least funded under mob
, Meyer Lansky
other mob figures at this time. The rapid growth of this gambling empire is
credited with dooming Galveston, Texas; Hot Springs, Arkansas; and other major gaming centers in the 1950s.
With the arrival of billionaire Howard
in the late 1960s, who purchased many casino-hotels and
television stations in the city, legitimate corporations began to
purchase casino-hotels as well, and the mob was run out by the
federal government over the next several years. The constant stream
of tourist dollars from the hotels and casinos was also augmented
by a new source of federal money. This money came from the establishment of
what is now Nellis
Air Force Base.
The influx of military
and casino job-hunters helped start a land building
boom which still goes on today.
Las Vegas's gambling revenues have been surpassed by Macau, the city remains one of the world's top
Geography and climate
Typical desert scene in the Las Vegas
Las Vegas is situated on the arid desert floor within Clark County.
Correspondingly, the surrounding environment is dominated by
and some wildlife
, and the area can be
subject to torrential flash floods
Enabling the rapid population
was a major addition to the city's sewage treatment
capacity. The sewage
treatment expansion resulted from a U.S. Environmental Protection
grant funded 2008 programs to analyze and forecast
growth and environmental
through the year 2019.
The city is in an arid basin
surrounded by dry mountains. City elevation is around above
. The Spring Mountains lie to the west.
As befits a desert, much of
the landscape is rocky and dusty. Within the city, however, there
are a great deal of lawns, trees, and other greenery. Due to water
resource issues, there is now a movement to encourage xeriscapes
instead of lawns. Another part of the
include scheduled watering groups for watering residential
landscaping. According to the United States Census Bureau
city has a total area of 131.3 square miles
which 131.2 square miles (339.8 km2
) is land
and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2
) of it (0.04%)
Snowfall is rare but possible as seen December 2008.
Vegas' climate is an arid
, desert climate
(Koppen climate classification
), typical of the Mojave
in which it lies. The city enjoys abundant sunshine
year-round and has about an average of 300 sunshine days a year,
with very little rainfall.
The summer months of June through September are very hot and mostly
dry with average daytime highs of - and nighttime lows of - ; and
most days in July and August exceed but with very low humidity,
frequently under 10%.
Las Vegas' winters are of short duration and the season is
generally mild, with daytime highs near and nighttime lows around .
The mountains surrounding Las Vegas accumulate snow during the
winter but snow is rare in the Las
itself. Several years apart, however, snow has
fallen in the valley. Temperatures can sometimes drop to freezing
but winter nighttime temperatures will rarely dip below 30
Annual precipitation in Las Vegas is around , which mainly occurs
during winter but is not uncommon anytime of the year.
The United States Census
2008 estimates place the population for the Las Vegas
at 1,865,746 people, and the region is one of the fastest
growing in the United States. Large numbers of new residents in the state
originate from California.
As of the 2005-2007 American
conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau,White Americans
made up 70.8% of Las Vegas'
population; 51.8% were non-Hispanic whites
made up 10.6% of
Las Vegas' population; 10.4% were non-Hispanic blacks.American Indian
0.7% of the city's population; 0.6% were non-Hispanic.Asian Americans
made up 5.0% of the city's
population; 4.9% were non-Hispanic.Pacific Islander Americans
0.4% of the city's population.Individuals from some other race made
up 8.9% of the city's population; 0.2% were non-Hispanic.
Individuals from two or more
made up 3.5% of the city's population; of which 2.5% were
In addition, Hispanics and
made up 29.2% of Las Vegas' population.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 478,434
people, 176,750 households, and 117,538 families residing in the
city. The population density
. There are 190,724 housing units at an average density of . The
racial makeup of the city was 69.86% White
, 10.36% African American
, 0.45% Pacific Islander
, 9.75% from
, and 4.05%
from two or more races. Hispanic
race were 23.61% of the population.
There were 176,750 households out of which 31.9% had children under
the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% were married couples
living together, 12.2% had a female
householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families.
25.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.5% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age
of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to
64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was
34 years. For every 100 females there were 103.3 males. For every
100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.5 males.
The median income
household in the city was $53,000 and the median income for a
family was $58,465. Males had a median income of $35,511 versus
$27,554 for females. The per capita
for the city was $22,060. About 6.6% of families and
8.9% of the population were below the poverty line
, including 5.4% of those under age
18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
Las Vegas has one of the highest suicide and divorce rates of the
U.S. A research study that found Las Vegas residents are 40% less
likely to commit suicide if they leave Las Vegas and visitors are
twice as likely to commit suicide there as elsewhere was published
in the Las Vegas Sun
2008, breaking a long-time taboo on discussion of suicide in Las
Vegas. The city's high divorce rate is not wholly due to Las Vegans
themselves getting divorced. Since divorce is easier in Nevada than
most other states, many people come from across the country for the
For similar reasons, Las Vegas has also one of the highest marriage
rates of U.S. cities as well, with many licenses issued to people
from outside the area (see Las Vegas
The primary drivers of the Las Vegas economy have been the
confluence of tourism
, and conventions
which in turn feed the
industries. The city serves as world headquarters
for the world's two largest
gaming companies, Harrah's Entertainment
and MGM Mirage
. Several companies involved in the
manufacture of electronic gaming machines, such as slot machines
, are located in the Las Vegas
area. In the 2000s retail and dining have become attractions of
their own.Tourism marketing and promotion are handled by the
Convention and Visitors Authority
, a county wide agency. Its
annual Visitors Survey provides detailed information on visitor
numbers, spending patterns and resulting revenues.
Constant population growth means that the housing construction
industry is vitally important. In 2000 more than 21,000 new homes
and 26,000 resale homes were purchased. In early 2005 there were 20
residential development projects of more than each underway. During
the that same period Las Vegas was regarded at the fastest growing
community in the U.S. However, the recession of 2007-2009 and the
accompanying business downturn has sent business and growth
tumbling, with Las Vegas recording one of the highest home
foreclosure rates in the country. The disappearance of disposable
consumer income and the backlash against corporate entertainment
spending sent the hospitality industry into a tailspin that it has
yet to recover from as of late 2009.
Mirage opened in 1989, it started a trend of further
development of the southern portion of the Las Vegas
This resulted in a drop in tourism from the
downtown area but many recent projects and condo construction have
seen an increase in visitors to downtown.
A concerted effort has been made by city officials to diversify the
by attracting light manufacturing
and other commercial interests. The lack of any state individual or
corporate income tax
and very simple
have fostered the success of this effort.
Las Vegas has recently enjoyed an enormous boom both in population
and in tourism. The urban area has grown outward so quickly that it
is beginning to run into Bureau of Land Management
along its edges, increasing land values enough that medium- and
high-density development is beginning to occur closer to the core.
As a reflection of the city's rapid growing population, the new
Chinatown of Las Vegas
constructed in the early 1990s
Mountain Road. Chinatown initially consisted of only one large
complex, but the area
was recently expanded for new shopping centers that contain various
With the Strip expansion in the 1990s, the downtown area (which has
maintained an old Las Vegas feel) began to suffer. The city made a
concerted effort to turn around the fortunes of downtown.
Street Experience (FSE) was built in an effort to draw tourists back
to the area and has proven to be popular in that regard.
multi-level Neonopolis, complete with 11 theaters (managed by Galaxy
Theaters, Inc.), was built to offer more retail opportunity and
Many highrise condo projects have also been
underway as downtown is transforming into a livable neighborhood.
Other promising signs emerged for the area. The city had
successfully lured the Internal
operations from the far west of the city to a
new downtown building that opened in April 2005. The IRS move is
expected to create a greater demand for additional businesses in
the area, especially in the daytime hours.
The city purchased of property from the Union Pacific Railroad
in 1995 with
the goal of creating something that would draw more tourists and
locals to the downtown area. In 2004 Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman announced plans for the Symphony Park which will include residential
and office high-rises, the Lou Ruvo
Brain Institute, an academic medical
Smith Center for the Performing Arts, and a new City
Hall. After failed negotiations with The Related Co. on the development of
Union Park in October 2005, San Diego-based Newland Communities was chosen by the city as
the new development firm.
The Newland contract calls for
Dan Van Epp
, Newland's regional vice
president and former president of the Howard Hughes Corp
oversee his company's work on Symphony Park. The Lou Ruvo
Brain Institute was completed in 2009.
Along with the Symphony Park, other promising residential and
office developments have begun construction around downtown Las
Vegas. New condominium
projects have changed the entire
Las Vegas skyline dramatically in recent years. Many large high-rise
projects are planned for downtown Las Vegas as well as the Las Vegas
In 2004, the city partnered with Cheetah Wireless Technologies and
MeshNetwork to pilot a wide area mobile broadband system. The pilot
system is installed downtown, around the Fremont Street Experience.
In 2005, on a lot adjacent to the city's 61 ac (247,000
), the World Market
opened. It is intended to be the nation's and
possibly the world's preeminent furniture
and marketplace, and is meant to compete with the current furniture
market capital of High Point, North Carolina.
On October 23, 2006, plans were unveiled to build a World Jewelry
Center in Downtown's Symphony Park. Similar to the World Market
Center, the WJC will be a one stop shop for jewelry trade shows
from around the world. The project
proposes a 57-story, office tower
The major attractions in Las Vegas are the casinos. The most famous hotel
casinos are located on Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the
Many of these hotels are massive, carrying
thousands of rooms, with their large adjoining casino areas. There
are many hotel casinos in the city's downtown area as well, which
was the original focal point of the city's gaming industry in its
early days. Several large hotels and casinos are also located
somewhat off the Strip but adjacent to it, as well as in the county
city. As of 2009, total number of hotel rooms in Las Vegas was over
the most notable casinos involved in downtown gaming are on the Fremont
Street Experience which was granted variances to allow bars to be
closer together, similar to the Gaslamp
Quarter of San Diego.
Downtown area casinos
- Henderson, Nevada, incorporated
- North Las Vegas, Nevada, incorporated
- Sunrise Manor, Nevada, unincorporated
- Spring Valley, Nevada, unincorporated
- Boulder City, Nevada, incorporated
On the first Friday of each month, the "First Friday" celebration
is held which exhibits the works of local artists and musicians in
a section of the city's Downtown region now called the "Arts
Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park
, also known as the Las Vegas Zoo
, exhibits over 150 species of
animals and plants.
The $485 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts (currently
under construction) will be located downtown in Symphony Park. The
center will be appropriate for Broadway shows and other major
touring attractions as well as orchestra, opera, and dance
The city also hosts annual events like the Helldorado Days
Las Vegas does not have major-league sports, although the
metropolitan population is as large or larger than many cities that
have them. The two major reasons are concern about legal sports
betting and competition for the entertainment dollar, both of which
Las Vegas has in abundance. The city currently has two minor league
sports teams, baseball's Las Vegas 51s
of the Pacific Coast League
(the AAA farm club of the Toronto Blue
), and hockey's Las Vegas
of the ECHL
(an affiliate of the
In the past, the city had teams in the Canadian Football League
, the WBL
, and the Arena Football League
. There is
speculation that the completion of a new arena that had been
expected to open in 2010 (and now has no projected opening date)
would bring teams from the NBA
. The city is reportedly on the short list of
Major League Soccer
expansion franchise in the near future. There have also been
contacts between city officials and several Major League Baseball
relocation. The ownership of the Florida
held a widely-publicized meeting with Mayor Oscar Goodman
in the winter of 2004. The city
was a strong candidate to be the new home of the Montreal Expos
, who eventually became the
reported that the guarantee of a new stadium built entirely with
public funds swung the balance in Washington's favor. Major League Baseball
held their 2008
winter meetings in Las Vegas.
High profile limited-duration sporting events have been successful.
Las Vegas hosted the 2007 NBA
. The NASCAR
series has drawn up to 165,000 fans. Las Vegas also hosts a
significant number of professional fights, primarily boxing
fights. Many of these fights (such as those in
) take place near downtown
or on the Strip in one of the major resort/hotel/casino event
centers. Mandalay Bay is frequently a top contender as a venue for the
is often referred to as "The Mecca of boxing" title which it often
shares with New York's Madison Square Garden.
Meanwhile, the amateur MMA league Tuff-N-Uff
competes at The
. The National Finals
has drawn thousands of fans to the city since 1985, and a
contract extension was signed in 2005 keeping the event in Las
Vegas through 2014. The NBA Summer
is currently held in the city, and the USA Olympic
basketball team trained in the city in 2008.
University of Nevada, Las
Vegas competes in NCAA Division I in men's and women's sports.
UNLV is a member of the Mountain West Conference
College of Southern
also has an athletic program, with significant success
in baseball at the community college level.
There are strong athletic programs at many Las Vegas high schools,
with a number of players in several sports going on to major
colleges and professional careers as athletes, including Andre Agassi
, Marcus Banks
, Steven Jackson
, Greg Maddux
, Frank Mir
Parks and recreation
has dozens of parks, including Las Vegas Springs Preserve
recreational and educational facility and Floyd Lamb
Las Vegas is a popular destination for Hawaiians. In 2002, almost
80,000 former residents of Hawaii lived in
Las Vegas, and nearly 3,000 Hawaiians visited Las Vegas every
Las Vegas is sometimes referred to as Hawaii's Ninth
Island. The city is the home to the first ABC
branch outside the state of Hawaii.
The City of Las Vegas government operates as a council-manager government
Mayor sits as a Council member-at-large and presides over all of
the City Council
meetings. In the event
that the Mayor cannot preside over a City Council meeting, the
Mayor Pro-Tem is the presiding
of the meeting until such time as the Mayor returns to
his seat. The City Manager is responsible for the administration
and the day-to-day operation of all of the municipal services
and city departments.
The City Manager also maintains intergovernmental relationships
with federal, state, county and other local governments
Much of the Las Vegas metropolitan area is split into neighboring
incorporated cities or unincorporated communities. Approximately 700,000
people live in unincorporated areas governed by Clark
County, and another 465,000 live in incorporated cities
such as North Las
Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City.
Las Vegas and nearly all of the surrounding
metropolitan area share a police department
the Las Vegas
Metropolitan Police Department
, which was formed after a 1973
merger of the Las
Vegas Police Department
and the Clark County Sheriff's
. North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City as well as
some colleges have their own police departments.
A Paiute Indian
occupies about one acre (4000 m2
in the downtown area of Las Vegas.
Las Vegas, as the county seat and home to the Lloyd
Federal District Courthouse
, draws numerous legal service industries
and other legal
members' official city websites
are also available)
- Oscar B. Goodman – Mayor and Council member at Large
(Term Expires in 2011)
- Gary Reese – Mayor Pro-Tem and 3rd
Ward Council member (Term Expires in 2011)
- Lois Tarkanian – 1st Ward Council
member (Term Expires in 2011)
- Steve Wolfson, Esq – 2nd Ward
Council member (Term Expires in 2009)
- Stavros Anthony – 4th Ward
Council member (Term Expires in 2013)
- Ricki Barlow – 5th Ward Council
member (Term Expires in 2011)
- Steve Ross – 6th Ward Council
member (Term Expires in 2009)
Primary and secondary public
is provided by the Clark County School District
(CCSD), which is the fifth most populous school district in the
nation (projected enrollment for the 2007–2008 school year is
314,000 students in grades K–12).
University of Nevada, Las
Vegas (UNLV) is in Paradise, about three miles (5 km) south of the city
limits and roughly two miles east of the Strip.
The University of Nevada Medical School
has a campus near downtown Las
Vegas. Several national colleges, including the University of Phoenix
, have campuses
in the Las Vegas area. Nevada State College and Touro
University Nevada are both in nearby Henderson. The College of Southern Nevada has
campuses in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson.
Henderson also is home to
DeVry University and the Keller Graduate School of Management, as
well as the University of
. Other private entities in the Las Vegas Valley
include Apollo College
, National University
, ITT Technical Institute
is a public transportation
system providing bus
service throughout Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas and other
suburban areas of the valley. Intercity bus
service to Las Vegas is provided by traditional intercity bus
carriers, including Greyhound
charter services, including Green
; and several Chinatown
. Amtrak California also
operates Deluxe Express Thruway
Motorcoach dedicated service between the City and its nearest
passenger rail station in Barstow, California.
Also, City Ride Bus Service is provided by
the Transportation Services Division. It offers two routes in the
downtown area with fares running from free to $0.50, depending on
age and disabilities.
With the exceptions of Las Vegas
, and Rancho
, the majority of surface streets in Las Vegas are laid
out in a grid along Public
Land Survey System section lines
Many are maintained by the Nevada Department of
as state highways
The street numbering system is divided by the following streets:
- Westcliff Drive, US 95
Street and Charleston
Boulevard divide the north-south block numbers from west to
- Las Vegas
Boulevard divides the east-west streets from the Las Vegas
Strip to near the Stratosphere, then Main Street becomes
the dividing line from the Stratosphere to the North Las Vegas
border, after which the Goldfield Street alignment officially
divides east and west.
- On the east side of Las Vegas, block numbers between Charleston Boulevard and Washington
Avenue are different along Nellis Boulevard, which is the eastern
border of the city limits.
- All city street signs begin with a N, S,
W, or E designation.
Interstates 15, 515, and US 95 lead out of the city in all four
directions. Two major freeways
- Interstate 15
and Interstate 515
/U.S. Route 95
- cross in downtown Las
Vegas. I-15 connects Las Vegas to Los
Angeles, California and heads northeast to and beyond Salt Lake
goes southeast to Henderson, beyond which US 93
continues over the Hoover
Dam towards Phoenix, Arizona. US 95 connects the city to northwestern
Nevada, including Carson
City and Reno.
splits from I-15 northeast of Las Vegas and goes north through the
eastern part of the state, serving Ely and
Wells, and US 95
heads south from US 93 near Henderson through far eastern
has been built, consisting of Interstate 215
on the south and
Clark County 215
on the west and
north. Other radial routes include Blue Diamond Road to Pahrump and Lake Mead Boulevard
- East-west roads, north to south
International Airport handles international and domestic flights into the
Las Vegas Valley.
- North-south roads, west to east
The airport also serves private aircraft
and freight/cargo flights. Some of the general aviation traffic use the smaller
Vegas Airport and Henderson Executive Airport.
The Union Pacific Railroad
the only class one railroad to provide rail freight service to the
city. Until 1997, the Amtrak Desert Wind
train service ran
through Las Vegas using the Union Pacific Railroad tracks that run
through the city. Amtrak service to Las Vegas goes to Needles,
California and continues on Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach bus
Plans to restore Los Angeles to Las Vegas Amtrak
service using a Talgo
train have been
discussed but no plan for a replacement has been implemented. The
Las Vegas Amtrak station was located in the Plaza Hotel.
the distinction of being the only train station in the United States that was located in a casino.
- Los Angeles Herald:Directors Elected By Salt Lake
Railroad, February 16, 1905 pp. 3.
- Chung, Su Kim. Las Vegas Then and Now. Thunder Bay
Press. San Diego, California: 2005. p. 36
- US Census Bureau
- US Census Bureau
Las Vegas Sun, November 13, 2008
- The Mecca of boxing
- Most arterial roads are shown, as indicated on the
Nevada Department of
Transportation's 2004 Roadway Functional Classification map.
Retrieved May 2008.