|City of Las Vegas|
Downtown Las Vegas skyline looking south, with the Las Vegas Valley in the background.
|Nickname(s): Vegas, The Gambling Capital of the World, Sin City, The Entertainment Capital of the World, Capital of Second Chances, The Marriage Capital of the World|
Location of the city of Las Vegas within Clark County, Nevada
|Founded||May 15, 1905|
|Incorporated||March 16, 1911|
|• Mayor||Carolyn G. Goodman (I)|
|• City Manager||Betsy Fretwell|
|• City||135.8 sq mi (352 km2)|
|• Land||135.8 sq mi (352 km2)|
|• Water||.05 sq mi (0.1 km2)|
|Elevation||2,001 ft (610 m)|
|• Density||4,298.1/sq mi (1,659.5/km2)|
|(30th most in the U.S.)|
|Time zone||PST (UTC−8)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC−7)|
|GNIS feature ID||0847388|
Las Vegas / / is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and the county seat of Clark County. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city known primarily for gambling, shopping, fine dining, and nightlife and is the leading financial and cultural center for Southern Nevada. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous for its consolidated casino–hotels and associated entertainment. A growing retirement and family city, Las Vegas is the 31st-most populous city in the United States, with a population at the 2010 census of 583,756. The 2010 population of the Las Vegas metropolitan area was 1,951,269. The city is one of the top three leading destinations in the United States for conventions, business, and meetings. Today, Las Vegas is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Established in 1905, Las Vegas was incorporated as a city in 1911. At the close of the 20th century, Las Vegas was the most populous American city founded in that century (a distinction held by Chicago in the 19th century). 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. There are numerous outdoor lighting displays on Fremont Street, as well as elsewhere in the city.
Las Vegas also is used to describe the city along with areas beyond the city limits, especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip, and the Las Vegas Valley. The 4.2 mi (6.8 km) stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard known as the Strip is in the unincorporated communities of Paradise, Winchester, and Enterprise.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography and climate
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Culture
- 6 Sports
- 7 Parks and recreation
- 8 Government
- 9 Education
- 10 Transportation
- 11 Notable people
- 12 Sister cities
- 13 See also
- 14 References
- 15 External links
- 16 Further reading
The first reported non-Native American visitor to the Las Vegas Valley was the Mexican scout Rafael Rivera in 1829. Las Vegas was named by Mexicans in the Antonio Armijo party, including Rivera, who used the water in the area while heading north and west along the Old Spanish Trail from Texas. In the 19th century, areas of the valley contained artesian wells that supported extensive green areas, or meadows, hence the name Las Vegas (vegas being Spanish for "meadows").
On May 3, 1844, while it was still part of Mexico, John C. Frémont led a group of scientists, scouts, and observers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers into the Las Vegas Valley. 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 that served as a stopover for travelers along the "Mormon Corridor" between Salt Lake and the briefly thriving colony of saints at San Bernardino, California. Mormons abandoned Las Vegas in 1857, during the Utah War. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres (45 ha) owned by the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad in what is now downtown Las Vegas was auctioned off. Among the railroad's most notable owners and directors were Montana Senator William A. Clark, Utah Senator Thomas Kearns, and R.C. Kerens of St. Louis. Las Vegas was part of Lincoln County until 1908, when it became part of the newly established Clark County. 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; Peter Buol 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 20th century. It was a staging point for mines in the surrounding area, especially those around the town of Bullfrog, that shipped goods to the rest of the country. With the proliferation of the railroads, Las Vegas became less important, but the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam in 1935 resulted in growth in the number of residents and increased tourism. The dam, located 30 mi (48 km) southeast of the city, formed Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake and reservoir in the United States. 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, "due almost entirely" to the influx of scientists and staff from the Manhattan Project, an atomic bomb research project of World War II. Atomic test watching parties were sometimes thrown. American organized crime figures such as Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Meyer Lansky managed or funded most of the original large casinos. The rapid growth of Las Vegas is credited with dooming the gambling industry development of Galveston, Texas; Hot Springs, Arkansas; and other major gambling centers in the 1950s.
Geography and climate
Las Vegas is situated within Clark County in an arid basin on the floor of the Mojave Desert, surrounded by dry mountains. The Spring Mountains lie to the west. Much of the landscape is rocky and dusty; the environment is dominated by desert vegetation and some wildlife, and the area is subject to torrential flash floods. The peaks surrounding Las Vegas reach elevations of over 10,000 feet, and act as barriers to the strong flow of moisture from the surrounding area. The elevation is around 2,030 ft (620 m) above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 135.86 sq mi (351.9 km2), of which 135.81 sq mi (351.7 km2) is land and 0.05 sq mi (0.13 km2) (0.03%) is water.
Within the city there are many lawns, trees, and other greenery. Due to water resource issues, there is now a movement to encourage xeriscapes. Another part of the water conservation efforts include scheduled watering groups for watering residential landscaping. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant in 2008 funded a program that analyzed and forecast growth and environmental impacts through the year 2019.
Las Vegas' climate is a subtropical, hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification: BWh), typical of the Mojave Desert in which it lies. The city enjoys abundant sunshine year-round: it has an average of about 300 sunny days per year with more than 3,800 hours of sunshine.
The summer months of June through September are very hot and mostly dry, with a July daily average temperature of 92.5 °F (33.6 °C), while night-time temperatures often remain above 80 °F (27 °C). There are an average of 134 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, and 74 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs, with most of the days in July and August exceeding the latter benchmark, and only occasionally failing to reach the former. Humidity is very low, often under 10%.
Las Vegas' winters are of short duration and the season is generally mild, with December, the coolest month, averaging 47.7 °F (8.7 °C). The mountains surrounding Las Vegas accumulate snow during the winter but snow is rare in the Las Vegas Valley itself, although on December 16, 2008, Las Vegas received 3.6 inches (9.1 cm). Temperatures reach the freezing mark on 16 nights of the year but rarely sink to 20 °F (−7 °C).
Annual precipitation in Las Vegas is about 4.2 in (110 mm), which on average occurs on 26–27 days per year. Most of the precipitation falls in the winter, but the wettest month (February) has on average only 4 days of precipitation.
|Climate data for McCarran International Airport (Paradise, Nevada), 1981–2010 normals|
|Record high °F (°C)||77
|Average high °F (°C)||58.0
|Average low °F (°C)||39.4
|Record low °F (°C)||8
|Precipitation inches (mm)||0.54
|Snowfall inches (cm)||0.9
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||3.1||4.0||2.9||1.6||1.2||0.6||2.5||2.6||1.6||1.7||1.7||3.0||26.5|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||244.9||248.6||313.1||345.0||387.5||402.0||390.6||368.9||336.0||303.8||246.0||235.6||3,822|
|Source #1: NOAA (extremes 1937–present)|
|Source #2: HKO (sun only, 1961–1990)|
- Henderson, Nevada, incorporated
- North Las Vegas, Nevada, incorporated
- Paradise, Nevada, unincorporated
- Enterprise, unincorporated
- Sunrise Manor, Nevada, unincorporated
- Spring Valley, Nevada, unincorporated
- Boulder City, Nevada, incorporated
- White: 62.1% (Non-Hispanic Whites: 47.9%)
- Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 31.5% (24.0% Mexican, 1.4% Salvadoran, 0.9% Puerto Rican, 0.9% Cuban, 0.6% Guatemalan, 0.2% Peruvian, 0.2% Colombian, 0.2% Honduran, 0.2% Nicaraguan)
- Black or African American: 11.1%
- Asian: 6.1% (3.3% Filipino, 0.7% Chinese, 0.5% Korean, 0.4% Japanese, 0.4% Indian, 0.2% Vietnamese, 0.2% Thai)
- Two or more races: 4.9%
- Native American: 0.7%
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.6%
As of the census of 2010, there were 583,756 people, 211,689 households, and 117,538 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,222.5 /sq mi (1,630.3 /km2). There are 190,724 housing units at an average density of 1,683.3 /sq mi (649.9 /km2).
As of 2006, 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 $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 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.
Las Vegas is one of the most stressful cities in the U.S., according to a 2004 study, and has one of the highest divorce rates. 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 easier process. Similarly, Nevada marriages are notoriously easy to get. Las Vegas has one of the highest marriage rates of U.S. cities, with many licenses issued to people from outside the area (see Las Vegas weddings).
The primary drivers of the Las Vegas economy are tourism, gaming, and conventions, which in turn feed the retail and restaurant industries.
The major attractions in Las Vegas are the casinos and the hotels. Most of the hotel casinos are in the city's downtown area, which has been the focal point of the city's gaming industry since its early days.
Most casinos are downtown on the Fremont Street Experience, The Stratosphere being the major exception. Fremont East, adjacent to the Fremont Street Experience, was granted variances to allow bars to be closer together, similar to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, the goal being to attract a different demographic than the Strip attracts.
Las Vegas got its start with casinos in 1931 with the opening of the Northern Club (now the La Bayou). The most notable of the early casinos may have been Binion's Horseshoe (now Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel) while it was run by Benny Binion. Boyd Gaming has a major presence downtown operating the California Hotel and Casino, Fremont Hotel and Casino and the Main Street Casino. The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino is the oldest hotel in the Fremont Street Experience. The Golden Nugget is the largest hotel and casino in the city. The Plaza Hotel & Casino on Main Street was the railway station until Amtrak discontinued service. Other casinos include the El Cortez, The D, Four Queens, Gold Spike Hotel and Casino and the Las Vegas Club.
Las Vegas Strip
The gambling and entertainment industry in Las Vegas is mostly focused in the Las Vegas Strip. The Strip is not actually located in city limits, but instead in the surrounding unincorporated communities of Paradise and Winchester. The largest and most notable casinos and buildings are located there.
When The Mirage opened in 1989, it started a trend of major resort development of the southern portion of the Las Vegas Strip outside of the city. This resulted in a drop in tourism in the downtown area, but many recent projects and condominium construction have increased the number of visitors to downtown.
An effort has been made by city officials to diversify the economy by attracting light manufacturing, banking, and other commercial interests. The lack of state individual and corporate income tax and very simple incorporation requirements have fostered the success of this effort.
With the Strip expansion in the 1990s, Downtown Las Vegas (which has maintained an old Las Vegas feel) began to suffer. The city made an effort to turn around the fortunes of downtown. The city successfully lured the Internal Revenue Service operations from western side of the city to a new downtown area building that opened in April 2005. The IRS move was expected to create a greater demand for additional businesses in the area, especially in the daytime hours. The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) was built in an effort to draw tourists back to the area, and has been popular. Since the recession began in 2008, many of these shops have closed. The multi-level Neonopolis closed their 11 theaters and nearly all retail stores. Many high-rise condo projects have been under construction, but one of the highest profile buildings, the Streamline Tower, went into bankruptcy.
The city purchased 61 acres (25 ha) of property from the Union Pacific Railroad in 1995 with the goal of creating something to draw more people to the downtown area. In 2004 Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman announced plans for Symphony Park, 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 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 Corporation, to oversee his company's work on Symphony Park. The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute was completed in 2009.
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. On a lot adjacent to the city's 61 acre site, the World Market Center opened in 2005. It was intended as a preeminent furniture wholesale showroom and marketplace 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 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, 815 ft (248 m) office tower. As of 2009 the project was still on hold.
Las Vegas decided to build a new city hall in the late 2000s. This had several consequences. One is that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which shared city hall, would have to find a new location. A second is that the old building would be vacated, with a potential negative impact on the downtown area. The police department elected to build a headquarters building in another part of the city and consolidate most of its operations in one place. This increased the department's presence within the city since it would be moving in employees not presently working in the city. The second problem was addressed when the city and Zappos reached an agreement for Zappos to move its headquarters into the old city hall.
The city is home to several museums including the Neon Museum home to many of the historical signs from the valley, The Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Lied Discovery Children's Museum, National Atomic Testing Museum, and the Old Las Vegas Mormon State Historic Park.
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 called the "Arts District".
The Thursday prior to First Friday is known in the 18b Arts District as "Preview Thursday". This evening event highlights new gallery exhibitions just opening throughout the district.
The Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park, also known as the Las Vegas Zoo, exhibits over 150 species of animals and plants.
The Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts is a Grammy award-winning magnet school located in Downtown Las Vegas.
The $485 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts is located downtown in Symphony Park. The center hosts Broadway shows and other major touring attractions as well as orchestra, opera, ballet and dance performances.
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 main reasons are concern about legal sports betting and competition for the entertainment dollar. The only minor league sports team that plays in the City of Las Vegas is baseball's Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League, the AAA farm club of the New York Mets.
Parks and recreation
Las Vegas has dozens of parks, including Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a recreational and educational facility, and Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs. The city operates 4 golf courses (Angel Park Golf Club, Desert Pines Golf Club, Durango Hills Golf Club and the Las Vegas Municipal Golf Course), 5 dog parks, 9 community centers, 8 senior centers and 20 sports facilities including 9 skate parks and 6 swimming pools.
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 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 Department. North Las Vegas, Henderson, Boulder City, and some colleges have their own police departments.
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.
|Stavros Anthony||4th Ward Council member||2013|
|Ricki Y. Barlow||5th Ward Council member||2015|||
|Carolyn Goodman||Mayor and Council member at-large||2015||||Replaced her husband, Oscar Goodman, who was term-limited|
|Bob Coffin||3rd Ward Council member||2015|||
|Steven D. Ross||6th Ward Council member||2013|
|Lois Tarkanian||1st Ward Council member||2015|||
|Bob Beers, CPA||2nd Ward Council member||2013|
Primary and secondary schools
Primary and secondary public education is provided by the Clark County School District, which is the fifth most populous school district in the nation (projected enrollment for the 2007–2008 school year was 314,000 students in grades K–12).
Colleges and universities
The College of Southern Nevada (the third largest community college in the United States by enrollment) is the main higher education facility in the city. Other institutions include the University of Nevada School of Medicine, with a campus in the city, and the for-profit private school Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Many educational opportunities exist around the city. These include University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Nevada State College run by the Nevada System of Higher Education, Desert Research Institute, The International Academy of Design & Technology Las Vegas, Touro University Nevada and the University of Southern Nevada.
RTC Transit is a public transportation system providing bus service throughout Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, and other suburban areas of the valley. Inter-city bus service to Las Vegas is provided by Greyhound, many charter services, including Green Tortoise, and several Chinatown bus lines. Though no Amtrak trains have served Las Vegas since the Desert Wind was cancelled in 1997, Amtrak California operates Thruway Motorcoach dedicated service between the City and its passenger rail stations in Bakersfield, California as well as Los Angeles Union Station via Barstow.
A bus rapid transit link in Las Vegas called the Strip & Downtown Express (previously ACE Gold Line) with limited stops and frequent service was launched in March 2010, and connects Downtown Las Vegas, the Strip, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Town Square. In addition, the Las Vegas Monorail connects different casinos on the Strip and with a planned extension to Las Vegas International Airport.
With some exceptions, including Las Vegas Boulevard, Boulder Highway (SR 582), and Rancho Drive (SR 599), 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 Transportation as state highways. 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 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.
Interstates 15, 515, and US 95 lead out of the city in 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, and heads northeast to and beyond Salt Lake City, Utah. I-515 goes southeast to Henderson, beyond which US 93 continues over the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge towards Phoenix, Arizona. US 95 connects the city to northwestern Nevada, including Carson City and Reno. US 93 splits from I-15 northeast of Las Vegas and goes north through the eastern part of the state, serving Ely and Wells. US 95 heads south from US 93 near Henderson through far eastern California. A partial beltway 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 (SR 160) to Pahrump and Lake Mead Boulevard (SR 147) to Lake Mead.
- East–west roads, north to south
- North–south roads, west to east
McCarran International Airport handles international and domestic flights into the Las Vegas Valley. The airport also serves private aircraft and freight/cargo flights. Most general aviation traffic uses the smaller North Las Vegas Airport and Henderson Executive Airport.
The Union Pacific Railroad is the only Class I 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. Amtrak service to Las Vegas goes to Needles, California and continues on Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach bus service. Plans to restore Los Angeles to Las Vegas Amtrak service using a Talgo train were discussed in the late 1990s, but the plan was not implemented. In November 2012 Las Vegas Railway Express announced an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad to provide passenger service from Fullerton, California to Las Vegas using the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Known as the "X Train", regular service is expected to start in 2014. The Las Vegas Amtrak station was located in the Plaza Hotel; it held the distinction of being the only train station in the US that was located in a casino.
- Ansan, South Korea
- Jeju City, South Korea
- Huludao, Liaoning, China
- Phuket, Thailand
- Angeles City, Philippines
- Pamukkale, Turkey
- Las Vegas Strip
- List of people from Las Vegas
- List of films set in Las Vegas
- List of films shot in Las Vegas
- List of mayors of Las Vegas
- List of Las Vegas casinos that never opened
- List of television shows set in Las Vegas
- Las Vegas weddings
- Radio stations in Las Vegas
- Television stations in Las Vegas
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- City of Las Vegas official website
- "The Making of Las Vegas" (historical timeline)
- Geologic tour guide of the Las Vegas area from American Geological Institute
- National Weather Service Forecast – Las Vegas, NV
- Chung, Su Kim (2012). Las Vegas Then and Now, Holt: Thunder Bay Press, ISBN 978-1-60710-582-4
- Stierli, Martino (2013). Las Vegas in the Rearview Mirror: The City in Theory, Photography, and Film, Los Angeles: Getty Publications, ISBN 978-1-60606-137-4
- Venturi, Robert (1972). Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form, Cambridge: MIT Press, ISBN 978-0-26272-006-9