Las Vegas, New Mexico

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Las Vegas, New Mexico
City
Downtown Las Vegas
Downtown Las Vegas
Location of Las Vegas, New Mexico
Location of Las Vegas, New Mexico
Coordinates: 35°35′49″N 105°13′21″W / 35.59694°N 105.22250°W / 35.59694; -105.22250Coordinates: 35°35′49″N 105°13′21″W / 35.59694°N 105.22250°W / 35.59694; -105.22250
Country United States
State New Mexico
County San Miguel
Government
 • Type Mayor-council government
 • Mayor Alfonso E. Ortiz, Jr.
Area
 • Total 7.5 sq mi (19.5 km2)
 • Land 7.5 sq mi (19.5 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 6,424 ft (1,958 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 14,408
 • Density 1,938.2/sq mi (748.3/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP codes 87701, 87745
Area code(s) 505
FIPS code 35-39940
GNIS feature ID 0915788
Website lasvegasnm.gov

Las Vegas is a city and county seat of San Miguel County, New Mexico, United States.[1] Once two separate municipalities (one a city and the other a town) both named Las Vegas, west Las Vegas ("Old Town") and east Las Vegas ("New Town"), separated by the Gallinas River, retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts. The population was 14,565 at the 2000 census. Las Vegas, NM is located 110 miles south of Raton, New Mexico, 65 miles east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, 122 miles northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico, 257 miles south of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and 326 miles south of Denver, Colorado.

History[edit]

The Plaza Hotel, built in 1881, on the Plaza of West Las Vegas

Las Vegas was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings which could serve as fortifications in case of attack. Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. During the Mexican-American War in 1846, Stephen W. Kearny delivered an address at the Plaza of Las Vegas claiming New Mexico for the United States. In 1877 Las Vegas College, the precursor to Regis University, was founded in Las Vegas by a group of exiled Italian Jesuits. In 1887, Las Vegas College moved to Denver whereupon the name was changed.[2]

A railroad was constructed to the town in 1880. To maintain control of development rights, it established a station and related development one mile (1.6 km) east of the Plaza, creating a separate, rival New Town (as occurred elsewhere in the Old West. The same competing development occurred in Albuquerque, for instance). During the railroad era Las Vegas boomed, quickly becoming one of the largest cities in the American Southwest. Turn-of-the-century Las Vegas featured all the modern amenities, including an electric street railway, the "Duncan Opera House" at the northeast corner of 6th Street and Douglas Avenue, a Carnegie library, a major Harvey House The Hotel Castañeda, and the New Mexico Normal School (now New Mexico Highlands University). Since the decline and restructuring of the railroad industry began in the 1950s, the city's population has remained relatively constant. Although the two towns have been combined, separate school districts have been maintained (Las Vegas City Schools and West Las Vegas School District).

The anti-colonist organization Las Gorras Blancas was active in the area in the 1890s.

Outlaws[edit]

The arrival of the railroad on July 4, 1879 brought with it businesses, development and new residents, both respectable and dubious. Murderers, robbers, thieves, gamblers, gunmen, swindlers, vagrants, and tramps poured in, transforming the eastern side of the settlement into a virtually lawless brawl. Among the notorious characters were such legends of the Old West as: dentist Doc Holliday and his girlfriend Big Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Hoodoo Brown, and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler.[3]

Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed regarding the Old West, "Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas."[4]

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.5 square miles (19 km2), all of it land.

Climate[edit]

Climate data for Las Vegas, New Mexico. (Elevation 6,450ft)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 72
(22)
74
(23)
81
(27)
85
(29)
95
(35)
99
(37)
98
(37)
94
(34)
94
(34)
86
(30)
80
(27)
73
(23)
99
(37)
Average high °F (°C) 45.6
(7.6)
48.7
(9.3)
54.5
(12.5)
62.8
(17.1)
71.5
(21.9)
80.9
(27.2)
83.4
(28.6)
81.0
(27.2)
75.4
(24.1)
66.3
(19.1)
54.2
(12.3)
46.8
(8.2)
64.3
(17.9)
Average low °F (°C) 18.4
(−7.6)
20.8
(−6.2)
25.2
(−3.8)
32.5
(0.3)
41.1
(5.1)
49.6
(9.8)
54.1
(12.3)
52.8
(11.6)
46.5
(8.1)
36.4
(2.4)
25.6
(−3.6)
19.5
(−6.9)
35.2
(1.8)
Record low °F (°C) −26
(−32)
−23
(−31)
−16
(−27)
−2
(−19)
17
(−8)
32
(0)
37
(3)
39
(4)
23
(−5)
3
(−16)
−12
(−24)
−14
(−26)
−26
(−32)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.32
(8.1)
0.36
(9.1)
0.61
(15.5)
0.85
(21.6)
1.58
(40.1)
1.85
(47)
3.05
(77.5)
3.42
(86.9)
1.86
(47.2)
1.17
(29.7)
0.59
(15)
0.51
(13)
16.18
(411)
Snowfall inches (cm) 6.4
(16.3)
6.1
(15.5)
6.9
(17.5)
4.1
(10.4)
0.6
(1.5)
0.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.8
(4.6)
4.4
(11.2)
7.4
(18.8)
37.7
(95.8)
Source: The Western Regional Climate Center[5]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
2000 14,565
2010 14,408 −1.1%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 14,565 people, 5,588 households, and 3,559 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,938.2 people per square mile (748.8/km²). There were 6,366 housing units at an average density of 847.1 per square mile (327.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.21% White, 0.99% African American, 1.96% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 37.19% from other races, and 4.95% from two or more races. Hispanic of any race were 82.94% of the population.

There were 5,588 households out of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.0% were married couples living together, 21.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.4% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 90.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,214, and the median income for a family was $29,797. Males had a median income of $26,319 versus $21,731 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,619 as compared to $21,587 nationally as noted in the 2000 Census. About 24.3% of families and 27.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.7% of those under age 18 and 20.1% of those age 65 or over.

Libraries and museums[edit]

AT&SF engine #1129 on the corner of Grand & Mills

The New Mexico Highlands University is home to the Thomas C. Donnelly Library. It supports the teaching, research and community activities of New Mexico Highlands University. It acquires, organizes, preserves and provides access to pertinent information and scholarly materials for curricular needs, intellectual pursuits and personal enrichment of its clientele. It promotes programs and services that emphasize the diversity of the university’s multicultural community and heritage. An addition increased the square footage from 23,700 to 53,500 and now holds a book collection of almost 200,000 volumes.[7]

Las Vegas' Carnegie Library, established in 1904, is the only surviving Carnegie Library in New Mexico. Built from a $10,000 donation from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, its Neo-Classical Revival architecture resembles Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The library sits in the middle of a park that occupies an entire city block, bordered by Victorian-style homes and buildings.

The City of Las Vegas Museum & Rough Rider Memorial on Grand Avenue, dedicated in 1940, was first established by the decision of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders regiment (the first Volunteer Cavalry Regiment of the Spanish-American War), who named Las Vegas their official reunion home. Their first reunion was held in Las Vegas, June 1899.

The museum, free and open to the public, houses a memorial collection of artifacts, archives and photographs from the Rough Riders and mementos in relation to the 1898 Cuban Campaign of the Spanish-American War, with information on over 200 members of the original regiment, RRR Association documents, etc. The museum illuminates the history of Las Vegas, its connection to the Rough Riders, the Santa Fe Trail and the development of New Mexico. It features collections of local Native American pottery, household items, costumes, ranching and farming equipment, agricultural and mercantile operations, and home life.

Housed in a 1940 Works Progress Administration-funded building, the museum is built of stone, with Pueblo Revival nuances.[8]

Architecture[edit]

Historic Castaneda railway hotel as seen from I-25

Las Vegas has numerous historic structures (mostly railroad-era houses and commercial buildings), with over 900 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although many buildings are in varying states of deterioration, others have been restored or are awaiting restoration. Some of the city's notable buildings include:

  • Dr. H.J. Mueller House, 1881 example of Victorian eclecticism with unusual octagonal tower
  • Plaza Hotel, 1881, site of the first reunion of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders in 1899
  • Old City Hall, New Mexico's first municipal building, completed in 1892
  • Louis Fort House, Queen Anne house on Carnegie Park, built in 1895
  • Masonic Temple, Richardsonian Romanesque building erected in 1895
  • La Castaneda Hotel, mission-style Harvey House built in 1898
  • Carnegie Library, built in 1903 at the center of Carnegie Park and modeled after Monticello

Education[edit]

Public Schools[edit]

The City of Las Vegas is served by two public school districts.

The City of Las Vegas has two major high schools:

Colleges[edit]

Las Vegas is the home of New Mexico Highlands University and Luna Community College. The United World College in nearby Montezuma, New Mexico is a two-year international high school and one of the venues used by the International Baccalaureate Program for teacher training in the United States.

Transportation[edit]

Las Vegas Intermodal Facility

Railway

Airport

Major Highways

Films[edit]

Movies filmed in and around Las Vegas:

Notable people[edit]

  • Margaret Larkin (1899–1967), an American writer and musician, was born in Las Vegas
  • Patrick Swayze (1952–2009), an American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter, had a ranch in Las Vegas.
  • Eddie Guerrero (1967–2005), Professional wrestler for WWE, wrestled for New Mexico Highlands University.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Regis University". College Profiles. 1991-07-01. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  3. ^ "New Mexico Legends - Las Vegas - As Wicked as Dodge City". Legends of America. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  4. ^ "LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO - The Outlaw and a Politician". Edge.net. 1974-08-22. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  5. ^ "Seasonal Temperature and Precipitation Information". Western Regional Climate Center. Retrieved April 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "City of Las Vegas Museum & Rough Rider Memorial Collection". Lasvegasmuseum.org. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  9. ^ Santa Fe New Mexican, May 28, 2006, Page 33
  10. ^ Christine (2012-01-16). "A & E will film the new series ‘Longmire’, starring Katee Sackhoff & Lou Diamond Phillips, in New Mexico this spring". Onlocationvacations.com. 

External links[edit]