Las Vegas, Nevada

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"Las Vegas" redirects here. For other uses, see Las Vegas (disambiguation).
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign just to the south of the Las Vegas Strip welcoming visitors to the city
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign just to the south of the Las Vegas Strip welcoming visitors to the city
Las Vegas, Nevada
Official flag of Las Vegas, Nevada Official seal of Las Vegas, Nevada
City flag City seal
City nickname: "The Entertainment Capital of the World"
Location of Las Vegas, Nevada
Location of Las Vegas in Nevada
County Clark
Mayor Oscar B. Goodman
Physical characteristics
293.6 km²
     293.5 km²
     0.1 km²
     Total (2004)
1,952,779 (metro area)
     534,837 (city proper)
Latitude 36°11' N
Longitude 115°13' W
Time zone
     Summer (DST)
     PDT (UTC-7)
Official website:

Las Vegas is the most populous city in Nevada, United States. The city was founded in the first decade of the 20th century, and is a major vacation, shopping, and gambling destination. In the 2000 census, the city reported a population of 478,434 [1]. The Census Bureau's official population estimate as of 2004 was 534,837. Las Vegas has been the county seat of Clark County since its formation in 1909 [2]. Recent figures place the population for the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which includes all of Clark County, at around 1,950,000 people (2005 estimate [3]), the fastest growing in the United States.

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 mi (7¼ km) stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is mostly outside the Las Vegas city limits, in the township of Paradise.

The center of gambling in the US, Las Vegas is sometimes called Sin City due to the popularity of legalized gambling, availability of alcoholic beverages any time (like all of Nevada), various forms and degrees of adult entertainment, and legalized prostitution in nearby counties (Nevada law prohibits prostitution in counties which have populations greater than 400,000). The nickname favored by local government and promoters of tourism is The Entertainment Capital of the World. The city's glamorous image has made it a popular setting for films and television programs.



Main article: Las Vegas history


Las Vegas was given its name 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 (Vega 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.

Major events

Major events in Las Vegas' history include:

Economic history

Las Vegas has been a city of sustained growth. While there have been small lulls, there has never been a major downturn and the city is (as of mid-2005) enjoying a major boom and is one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S. today.

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 from town of Bullfrog, that shipped their goods out to the country. With the growth of the railroads, Las Vegas became less important, but the building of the Hoover Dam injected new blood into Las Vegas and the city has never looked back. Federal dollars from Hoover Dam soon converted to tourist dollars after the dam was built. The increase in tourism and 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.

Law and government

The Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse in Las Vegas is the first Federal Building built to the post-Oklahoma City blast resistant standards.
The Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse in Las Vegas is the first Federal Building built to the post-Oklahoma City blast resistant standards.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department provides most law enforcement services in the city and surrounding county. Exceptions include cities with their own law enforcement agency; including North Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City.

Most of the people and businesses who call Las Vegas home actually live in neighboring unincorporated communities that have no city government or in other nearby cities, some of which are listed below. In fact, of the nearly 1.6 million people who live in the Las Vegas valley, only 478,434 live inside Las Vegas city limits. The largest of these towns are Paradise (188,768) between Las Vegas and Henderson, Sunrise Manor (184,801) east of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, and Spring Valley (161,286) southwest of Las Vegas. These towns formed during a 1940s water dispute between the City of Las Vegas and early homeowners south of San Francisco Street, now Sahara Avenue. Residents of these towns cannot vote for the Mayor and City Council of Las Vegas, but they can vote for members of the Clark County Commission, which governs their areas. They are also represented by advisory boards, which are appointed by and give nonbinding suggestions to the Clark County Commission.

The City of Las Vegas government operates as a council-manager government. The Mayor sits as a Councilmember-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 body 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 an intergovernmental relationships with federal, state, county and other local governments.

A Paiute Indian reservation occupies about 1 acre (4,000 m²) in the downtown area of Las Vegas.

City council

(Councilmembers' official city websites are also available)

¹ Elected on January 26, 2005 in a special election to replace Councilwoman Janet Moncrief when recalled from office. Lois Tarkanian will serve the remaining two years of the Ward 1 seat.

City management

  • Douglas Selby – City Manager
  • Barbara Jo (Roni) Ronemus – City Clerk

Government offices

City of Las Vegas   | Metropolitan Police  | Detention Center (City jail)
 Government Offices |  Department          |  (not County Detention)
400 Stewart Avenue  | 400 Stewart Avenue   | 3200 Stewart Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89101 | Las Vegas, NV 89101  | Las Vegas, NV 89101

Marriage licenses are filed at the Clark County Courthouse.


Typical desert around the Las Vegas area.
Typical desert around the Las Vegas area.

Las Vegas is located at 36° 11′ 39″ N, 115° 13′ 19″ W (36.194168, 115.222060)1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 293.6 km² (113.4 mi²). 293.5 km² (113.3 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.04% water.

The city is located in an arid basin surrounded by mountains varying in color from pink to rust to gray. 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 xeriscaping instead of lawns.


Las Vegas' climate is typical of the Mojave Desert in which it is located, with very little rainfall, and extreme heat in the summer; highs of 105 °F (40 °C) are common from May to September, and for several days each year, temperatures may exceed 115 °F (46 °C). The hottest temperature ever recorded is 117 °F (47 °C), set on July 24, 1942 at present-day Nellis Air Force Base, and July 19, 2005 at McCarran International Airport. Winters are cool and windy, with the balance of Las Vegas' annual 4.2 in (102 mm) of rainfall coming from January to March. Winter daytime highs are usually in the upper 50's and overnight being in the upper 30's. The coldest temperature ever recorded is 8 °F (-13.3 °C) set on January 25, 1937 at present-day Nellis Air Force Base, and January 13, 1963 at McCarran International Airport. Showers also occur, but less frequently, in the Spring or Autumn. July through September, the Mexican Monsoon often brings enough moisture from the Gulf of Mexico across Mexico and into the southwest to cause afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Although winter snows are usually visible from December to June on the mountains surrounding the valley, it rarely snows in Las Vegas itself.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 478,434 people, 176,750 households, and 117,538 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,630.3/km² (4,222.5/mi²). There are 190,724 housing units at an average density of 649.9/km² (1,683.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 23.61% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 176,750 households out of which 31.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% are married couples living together, 12.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% are non-families. 25.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.66 and the average family size is 3.20.

In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 103.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 102.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $44,069, and the median income for a family is $50,465. Males have a median income of $35,511 versus $27,554 for females. The per capita income for the city is $22,060. 11.9% of the population and 8.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 15.4% of those under the age of 18 and 8.3% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

As of April 2005, the population of the entire Las Vegas Valley is about 2 million people, and contains the largest Hawaiian community, outside of Hawaii.


Interior of a casino.  A major part of the city economy is based on tourism, including gambling.
Interior of a 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. In the 2000s retail and dining have become attractions of their own.

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.

The redevelopment listed below shows how the city's trying to diversify the economy and revitalize the downtown area. The World Market Center is an example of this.

City redevelopment

The south end of the Las Vegas Strip in 2003.
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 which the downtown area is still trying to recover.

The Mirage Hotel and Casino.
The Mirage Hotel and Casino.

A concerted effort has been made by city fathers to diversify the Las Vegas 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 nearby urban centers. Consequently, the city has recently enjoyed an enormous boom both in population and in tourism. As of 2001, the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area is the fastest growing population center in the United States. Las Vegas's incorporated population of 478,434 is an understatement of the city's recent population boom, as much of the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area is unincorporated. The Las Vegas Valley metropolitan area is home to 1,583,172 residents according to the county's 2003 estimate. 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 the 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.
Downtown Las Vegas: The Fremont Street Experience outside of Binion's Horseshoe Casino.

With the Strip expansion in the 1990s, downtown Las Vegas began to suffer. The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) was built in an effort to draw tourists downtown. While greatly slowing the decline, it did not stop the decline in tourism and revenue. The multi-level Neonopolis, complete with food court and theaters, was built offer more retail and services downtown. While there have been changes in ownership and management, Neonopolis has not been able to lease all the space available. As of March 2005, the property is for sale.

The city purchased 61 ac (247,000 m²) of property from Union Pacific Railroad during the 1990s with the goal of creating something that would draw tourists and locals to the downtown area. After several proposals, virtually all of that piece of land has no firm development plans. The city council agreed on zoning changes on Fremont Street, allowing bars to be closer together duplicating what other cities have, like the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. These changes have yet to make a noticeable impact.

In the early 2000s, some promising signs emerged. Several high rise condominium projects were announced for Las Vegas. The city successfully lured the Internal Revenue Service to move operations from outside the city limits to a new building downtown that opened in April 2005. It is hoped that the condominium projects bring a younger crowd to the urban setting. The IRS is expected to create a demand for additional businesses in the area, epecially in the daytime hours.

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.

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.


The CAT Bus is the a popular means of public transportation among locals and tourists with 52 bus routes operating covering a large portion of the valley.

The Las Vegas Monorail runs from the MGM Grand Hotel at the south end of the Strip to the Sahara Hotel 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 divides 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.

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. Although general aviation traffic flies into McCarran International, Other airstrips 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.

Las Vegas from U.S. Highway 93
Las Vegas from U.S. Highway 93

Primary roadways into Las Vegas include I-15 (north to Salt Lake City–south to San Diego), US 93 (north to Ely and Jackpot–south to Kingman, Arizona) and US 95 (north towards Reno–south to Searchlight) provide interstate highway access.

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–Las Vegas Amtrak service using a Talgo train have been discussed since the Desert Wind was discontinued. As of 2005, however, no such service has been established.

Culture and attractions

The city and surrounding areas offer many attractions for both visitors and locals to enjoy.

See the Las Vegas metropolitan area article for a list of museums in the Las Vegas area.

Not having a major league sports team does not mean there is a lack of sports activities in the area. There are also many options for boating, golf, hiking, rock climbing, and parks which offer a wide range of activities.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas fields Division I athletic teams and the NCAA football Las Vegas Bowl call the city home.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), just north of the city hosts NASCAR and other automotive events.

There are multiple minor league sports teams: the Las Vegas 51s, a baseball franchise in the Triple A Pacific Coast League; the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL hockey league, and the Las Vegas Gladiators arena football team.

Las Vegas is frequently depicted in film and television:

Sister cities

Las Vegas has five sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI): Angeles City (Pampanga, Philippines), An San (South Korea), Brisbane (Australia), Huludao (China), and Phuket (Thailand).

See also


External links

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