Las Vegas (often abbreviated as "Vegas") is the most populous city in the state of Nevada, United States, the seat of Clark County, and an internationally renowned major resort city for shopping, entertainment, and gambling. Although established in 1905, Las Vegas officially became a city in 1911. With the growth that followed, Las Vegas became the largest American city founded in the 20th century, proceeding the 19th century founding of Chicago. As the 28th largest city in the United States, Las Vegas is one of the largest cities in the American West.
The name Las Vegas is often applied to the unincorporated areas of Clark County that surround the city, especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip. This 4½ mile (7.2 km) stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is mostly outside the city limits, in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester.
Las Vegas, billed as The Entertainment Capital of the World, is famous for massive and lavish casino resorts, the unrestricted availability of alcoholic beverages (as is true throughout Nevada), and adult entertainment. Once officially referred to as Sin City, this image made Las Vegas a popular setting for films and
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church near 4th and Bridger in downtown was founded in 1910.Las Vegas (English: "The Meadows") 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. In the 1800s, areas of the Las Vegas Valley contained artesian wells that supported extensive green areas or meadows (vegas in Spanish), hence the name Las Vegas. John C. Frémont traveled into the Las Vegas Valley on May 3, 1844, while it was still part of Mexico. He was a leader of a group of scientists, scouts and observers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
On May 10, 1855, following annexation by the United States, Brigham Young assigned 30 Mormon missionaries led by William Bringhurst to the area to convert the Paiute Indian population. 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 Mormon colony at San Bernardino, California. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres (44.5 ha) owned by Montana Senator William A. Clark's San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, was auctioned off in what is now downtown Las Vegas. Las Vegas was part of Lincoln County until 1909 when it became part of the newly established Clark County. Las Vegas became an incorporated city on March 16, 1911.
Significant events from Las Vegas history include:
Establishment of Las Vegas as a railroad town (May 15, 1905).
Legalization of gambling (March 19, 1931).
Completion of Hoover Dam (October 9, 1936).
Opening of Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo Hotel on what would become the Las Vegas Strip (December 26, 1946).
Atmospheric nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site (1951 to 1962).
Hotel fire at the MGM Grand, the state's deadliest disaster (November 21, 1980).
Opening of The Mirage which began the era of megaresort casinos (November 22, 1989).
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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. With the growth of the railroads, Las Vegas became less important, but the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam resulted in substantial growth in tourism, which, along with the legalization of gambling, led to the advent of the casino-hotels for which Las Vegas is famous.
The constant stream of tourist dollars from the hotels and casinos was 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 personnel and casino job-hunters helped start a land building boom which still goes on today.
Typical desert scene in the Las Vegas
Las Vegas is located at 36°11′39″N, 115°13′19″W (36.194168, 115.222060)GR1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 131.3 square miles (340.0 km²), of which, 131.2 square miles (339.8 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.16 km²) of it (0.04%) is water.
The city is located in an arid basin surrounded by mountains varying in color from pink to rust to gray. City elevation is around 2030 feet (620 m) above sea level. 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 water conservation efforts include scheduled watering groups for watering residential landscaping.
Las Vegas Climate
Las Vegas' climate is an arid desert climate (Koppen climate classification BWh) typical of the Mojave Desert, in which it is located, marked with very hot summers, mild winters, abundant sunshine year-round, and very little rainfall. Temperatures in the 90s°F (mid-30s°C) are common in the months of May, June, and September and temperatures normally exceed 100 °F (38 °C) most days in the months of July and August, with very low humidity, frequently under 10%. The hottest temperature ever recorded is 117 °F (47 °C) set twice, on July 19, 2005, at McCarran International Airport (the warmest ever recorded there) and July 24, 1942, at present-day Nellis Air Force Base. Winters are cool and windy, with the majority of Las Vegas' annual 4.49 in (114 mm) of rainfall coming from January to March. Winter daytime highs are normally around 60 °F (16 °C) and winter nighttime lows are usually around 40 °F (4 °C). The coldest temperature ever recorded is 8 °F (-13 °C) set on January 25, 1937, at present-day Nellis Air Force Base. Showers occur less frequently in the Spring or Autumn. July through September, the Mexican Monsoon often brings enough moisture from the Gulf of California across Mexico and into the southwest to cause afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Although winter snow is usually visible from December to May on the mountains surrounding Las Vegas, it rarely snows in the city itself.
Las Vegas is situated on the arid floor within Clark County. Correspondingly, the surrounding environment is dominated by desert vegetation and some wildlife, and the area is also subject to torrential flash floods. The rapid pace of urban development beginning in the 1980s has produced more impervious surface and exacerbated the inherent flooding issue. Enabling the rapid population expansion was a major addition to the city's sewage treatment capacity, an event removing a major constraint to population growth in the 1970s. The sewage treatment expansion resulted from a U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency grant funded 208 programs to analyze and forecast growth and environmental impacts through the year 2019.
The south end of the Las Vegas Strip in 2003.When The Mirage, the first Megaresort, opened in 1989, it started a movement of people and construction away from downtown Las Vegas to the Las Vegas Strip. This resulted in a drop in tourism from the downtown area but many recent projects and condo construction has seen an increase in visitors to downtown.
A concerted effort has been made by city officials to diversify the economy from tourism by attracting light manufacturing, banking, and other commercial interests. The lack of any state individual or corporate income tax and very simple incorporation requirements have fostered the success of this effort.
Having been late to develop an urban core of any substantial size, Las Vegas has retained very affordable real estate prices in comparison to other western U.S. cities. Consequently, the city has recently enjoyed an enormous boom both in population and in tourism. However, as a New York Times series on the city reported in 2004, the median price of housing in the Las Vegas Valley is now at or above the nationwide median. The urban area has grown outward so quickly that it is beginning to run into Bureau of Land Management holdings 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 was constructed in the early 1990s on Spring Mountain Road. Chinatown initially consisted of only one large shopping center complex, but the area was recently expanded for new shopping centers that contain various Asian businesses.
Downtown Las Vegas: The Fremont Street Experience outside of Binion's Horseshoe Casino.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 concise effort to turn around the fortunes of downtown. The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) was built in an effort to draw tourists back to the area and has proven to be popular in that regard. The multi-level Neonopolis, complete with 11 theaters (managed by Galaxy Theaters, Inc.), was built to offer more retail opportunity and services. 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 Revenue Service 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 61 acres (247,000 m²) of property from 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 Union Park Development which will include residential and office high-rises, The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, an academic medical center, The 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 of 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., to oversee his company's work on Union Park. The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute is expected to be completed in 2007.
Newport Lofts high-rise development under construction with newly finished Soho Lofts in the background.Along with the Union Park Development, other promising residential and office developments have begun construction around downtown Las Vegas. New condominium and hotel high rise 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 Strip.
The city council of Las Vegas has also agreed on zoning changes on Fremont Street, which allows bars to be closer together, such as the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. It is expected that this change will bring more tourism and business to the downtown area.
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.
Las Vegas from space (1989 Space Shuttle Photo)In 2005, on a lot adjacent to the city's 61 ac (247,000 m²), the World Market Center opened. It is intended to be the nation's and possibly the world's preeminent furniture wholesale showroom 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 Union 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, 815-foot office
The major attractions in Las Vegas are the casinos. The most famous casinos line Las Vegas Boulevard South, also known as the Las Vegas Strip. There are many 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 casinos are also located in the county around the city.
Some of the most notable casinos located downtown are on the Fremont Street Experience and include:
Four QueensGolden Nugget
Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas Club
Fitzgeralds Las Vegas
Golden Gate Hotel and Casino
California Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas Springs Preserve Recreational and educational facility
Floyd Lamb State Park
A number of popular music acts have originated from Las Vegas including rock bands The Killers, Panic! at the Disco, The Higher, Escape The Fate, Slaughter rhythm and blues group 702 and singer Jenny Lewis
While the electronic music duo The Crystal Method was founded in Los Angeles, both members, Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, are from Las Vegas.
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
Interior of the Circus Circus casino. A major part of the city economy is based on tourism, including gambling.The primary drivers of the Las Vegas economy have been the confluence of tourism, gaming, and conventions which in turn feed the retail and dining industries. 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 Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a county wide agency. Its annual Visitors Survey provides detailed information on visitor numbers, spending patterns and resulting revenues.
The Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse in Las Vegas is the first Federal Building built to the post-Oklahoma City blast resistant standards.Las Vegas, as the county seat and home to the Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse, draws numerous legal service industries providing bail, marriage, divorce, tax, incorporation and other legal services.
Many technology companies have either relocated to Las Vegas or were created there. For various reasons, Las Vegas has had a high concentration of technology companies in electronic gaming and telecommunications industries. Some current technology companies in southern Nevada include Bigelow Aerospace, CommPartners, Datanamics, eVital Communications, NAHETS, Petroglyph, SkywireMedia, Switch Communications, WorldDoc, and Zappos. Companies that originally were formed in Las Vegas, but have since sold or relocated include Westwood Studios (sold to Electronic Arts), Systems Research & Development (Sold to IBM), Yellowpages.com (Sold to Bellsouth and SBC), and MPower Communications.
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 300 acres each currently underway.
Las Vegas has been the county seat of Clark County since the formation of the county in 1909. The Census Bureau's official
population estimate, as of 2006, was 552,539, though the city’s own Planning and Development Department reported a population of
591,536 as of July, 2006.
The United States Census Bureau 2006 estimates place the population for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Statistical Area at 1,777,539 people, and the region is one of the fastest growing in the United States. Las Vegas proper was ranked as the 32nd largest city in the United States in 2000, but 2006 estimates have placed the city 28th in
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 478,434 people, 176,750 households, and 117,538 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,222.5 people per square mile (1,630.3/km²). There are 190,724 housing units at an average density of 1,683.3/sq mi (649.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.86% White, 10.36% African American, 0.75% Native American, 4.78% Asian, 0.45% Pacific Islander, 9.75% from other races, and 4.05% from two or more races. Hispanics are 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 for a household in the city was $44,069, and the median income for a family was $50,465. Males had a median income of $35,511 versus $27,554 for females. The per capita income 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.
As of the 2006 census estimate, the Las Vegas metropolitan area contained over 1.7 million residents, and contains the largest ethnic Hawaiian community outside of Hawaii.
As of December, 2007, clark county officially declares the clark county population exceeding 2 million people. Current estimates place growth at 3 million people by 2019, and 4 million people by 2025. (Source Las Vegas Review Journal 12/09/07)
Las Vegas has one of the highest suicide and divorce rates of the U.S. The city's high divorce rate is partly due to the fact that divorce is easier in Nevada than most other states, so many divorcing couples are not actually Las Vegas residents, they come from all over the country for the easy divorce. The state, however, also has liberal marriage laws, giving Las Vegas a higher marriage rate than many larger cities.
Las Vegas City Hall in downtown Las Vegas.The City of Las Vegas government operates as a council-manager government. The 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 officer 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.
A large number of the people who live in what they call "Las Vegas" actually reside in neighboring incorporated cities or unincorporated communities. In fact, of the approximately 1.8 million people who live in the Las Vegas Valley, approximately 600,000 actually live inside Las Vegas city limits. 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. The metropolitan area shares a police department. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department provides most law enforcement services in the city and surrounding county after a 1975 merger of the Las Vegas Police Department and the Clark County Sheriff's Department. Incorporated cities in Clark County, as well as colleges, parks and schools have their own police departments that fall outside of Metro's jurisdiction.
A Paiute Indian reservation occupies about one acre (4000 m²) in the downtown area of Las Vegas.
Currently, Las Vegas is without any major-league level sports teams. Among other things, leagues have had concerns about legalized sports betting, the relatively small television market and lack of outlying communities and the competition for residents' entertainment budget. High profile one-time sporting events, though, have had success. For example the Las Vegas metropolitan area hosted the NBA 2007 All-Star Game. The NASCAR Nextel Cup series race in the area has drawn up to 165,000 fans. Neither of these events have taken place in the Las Vegas city limits.
(Council 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)
Larry Brown – 4th Ward Council member (Term Expires in 2009)
Ricki Barlow – 5th Ward Council member (Term Expires in 2011)
Steve Ross – 6th Ward Council member (Term Expires in 2009)
Douglas Selby – City Manager
Barbara Jo (Roni) Ronemus – City Clerk
Primary and secondary public education is provided by the Clark County School District (CCSD), which is the fifth largest school district in the nation (projected enrollment for the 2007-2008 school year is 314,000 students in grades K-12).
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas is located in Paradise, about three miles 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 located 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 Southern Nevada. Other private entities in the Las Vegas Valley include Apollo College, National University, ITT Technical Institute and Nova Southeastern University.
City Ride Bus Service is provided by the Transportation Services Division. This limited service offers two routes in the downtown area with fare running from free to
$0.50 depending on age and
CAT Bus is a popular means of public transportation among locals and tourists with various bus routes covering a large portion of the valley. The CAT system carries approximately 175,000 people per weekday, or about 10 percent of the valley's population.
The Las Vegas Monorail runs from the MGM Grand Hotel at the south end of the Strip to the Sahara Hotel and Casino at the north end of the Strip.
The street numbering system is divided by the following streets:
Westcliff Drive, US 95 Expressway, Fremont Street and Charleston Boulevard divide the north-south block numbers from west to east.
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.
McCarran International Airport provides commercial flights into the Las Vegas valley. The airport also serves private aircraft, domestic and international passenger flights, and freight/cargo flights. General aviation traffic generally uses North Las Vegas
Airport, other other airfields are available.
Intercity bus service to Las Vegas is provided by traditional intercity bus carriers, including Greyhound; many charter services, including Green Tortoise; and several Chinatown bus lines. Amtrak California also operates Deluxe Express Thruway Motorcoach dedicated service between the City and its nearest passenger rail station in Bakersfield, California.
The Union Pacific Railroad is 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 (UP) rails that run through the city; Amtrak service to Las Vegas has since been replaced by Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach bus service. 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.
Some groups have proposed the California-Nevada Interstate Maglev line from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in order to ease the incoming and outgoing traffic congestion on I-15. Another proposal, the Desert Xpress, would involve the privately-financed construction of a train from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas, using off-the-shelf high speed rail
towards the south, Interstate 15 is a major gateway from Las Vegas to California, including Los Angeles and San Diego. To the north, it connects Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (UT), Pocatello (ID), Great Falls (MT), finally reaching its terminus at the United States-Canada border, near Sweetgrass, Montana.
US 93 is a north-south highway running from Wickenburg, Arizona to the Canadian border, near Eureka, Montana. It is the main route to Phoenix, Arizona and also connects Las Vegas to Twin Falls, Idaho and Missoula, Montana.
US 95 is a major freeway in the Las Vegas area, also known as Las Vegas Expressway. It runs from the Mexican border, near San Luis, Arizona up to the Canadian border, in Boundary County, Idaho, crossing 5 states. It is a major route from Las Vegas to Reno and Carson City, Nevada.
Nevada State Route 160 connects southwestern Las Vegas to Pahrump, ending at the US 95 highway, near Crystal
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