- This article is about the city of Las Vegas in Nevada. For other uses, see Las Vegas (disambiguation).
Sign just to the south of the Las Vegas Strip welcoming visitors to the city
Las Vegas viewed in false color, from 438 miles (705 km) by TERRA satellite. Grass-covered land, such as golf courses, appears in red.
The Las Vegas Strip in 2003
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and a major tourist destination. At the 2000 census, the city had a population of 478,434 making it the largest city in the state of Nevada. The city's official population estimate as of July 1, 2002 is 514,640. Las Vegas is the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. The metropolitan area of Las Vegas boasts a population greater than 1.7 million people (October 2004 estimate).
The name "Las Vegas" is often also applied to the unincorporated areas of Clark County that surround the city, especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip. This four and a half mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is mostly outside the Las Vegas city limits, in the township of Paradise, Nevada.
First settled in 1854 by Mormon farmers, Las Vegas already had been named by Spaniards in the Antonio Armijo party who watered there while heading north and west along the Old Spanish Trail from Texas. At that time, some low areas of the Las Vegas Valley contained artesian springs which created extensive green areas in contrast to the surrounding desert, hence the name Las Vegas, Spanish for "The Fertile Valleys." The Mormons abandoned the site in 1857, and the U.S. Army built Fort Baker there in 1864. Thanks to the springs, Las Vegas was a water stop, first for wagon trains and later railroads, on the trail between Los Angeles, California, and points east such as Albuquerque, New Mexico. Las Vegas was founded on May 15, 1905 when 110 acres (450,000 m²), in what later would become downtown, were auctioned.
Incorporated in 1911, and with gambling legalized in 1931, Las Vegas started its rise to world fame in 1941, when developers began building large hotels incorporating gambling casinos. Several such early enterprises are widely reputed to have been backed by money from crime syndicates based in the eastern United States. Gangsters Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Meyer Lansky are widely credited as the organizers and prime movers behind early development of Las Vegas. Ever since then, Las Vegas has been a mecca of gambling.
Las Vegas is sometimes called "Sin City" due to the popularity of legalized gambling, availability of alcoholic beverages any time of the day and night (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 large populations; see Prostitution in Nevada). 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.
Beginning with the Mirage in 1989, several huge "megaresorts" have opened. These huge facilities offered many entertainment options as well as gambling. An effort to appeal more to families, by offering more attractions geared toward children, met with only limited success. For example, the MGM Grand opened in 1993 with a "Grand Adventures" theme park, but it closed after the 2000 season. Similarly, in 2003 Treasure Island closed its video arcade and largely abandoned its previous pirate theme.
A concerted effort has been made by city fathers to diversify the Las Vegas economy by attracting light manufacturing, textiles, 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.
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.
Most of the people and businesses who call "Las Vegas" home actually live in neighboring communities that have no city government. In fact, of the nearly 1.6 million people who live in the Las Vegas Valley, just under 680,000 live in no city at all. The largest of these towns are Paradise (187,680) between Las Vegas and Henderson, Sunrise Manor (183,679) east of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, and Spring Valley (152,330) southwest of Las Vegas. These towns resulted from 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.
Elected and Government Officials of the City of Las Vegas:
(For Councilmembers' official websites, see City of Las Vegas Official Website under External Links)
- Douglas Selby - City Manager
- Barbara Jo (Roni) Ronemus - City Clerk
- Oscar B. Goodman - Mayor and Councilmember at Large (Term Expires in 2007)
- Gary Reese - Mayor Pro-Tem and 3rd Ward Councilmember (Term Expires in 2007)
- Lois Tarkanian - 1st Ward Councilmember (Elect (http://www.klastv.com/Global/story.asp?S=2857728&nav=168YVbt8)) (Term Expires in 2007)²
- Steve Wolfson - 2nd Ward Councilmember (Term Expires in 2005)¹
- Larry Brown - 4th Ward Councilmember (Term Expires in 2005)
- Lawrence Weekly - 5th Ward Councilmember (Term Expires in 2007)
- Michael Mack - 6th Ward Councilmember (Term Expires in 2005)
¹ Elected on June 22, 2004 in a special election to finish the term of Councilwoman Lynette Boggs-McDonald
who resigned prior to her appointment to the Clark County Commission.
² Elected to replace Councilwoman Janet Moncrief who was recalled from office during a special election held
on January 26, 2005. Lois Tarkanian will serve the remaining two years of the Ward 1 seat.
City of Las Vegas Government Offices are located at 400 Stewart Avenue, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101.
See also: List of mayors of Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is located at 36°11'39" North, 115°13'19" West (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, although, within the city, there is a great deal of greenery including lawns despite a movement to encourage xeriscaping.
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.
The population of the entire Las Vegas Valley is approximately 1.7 million.
Las Vegas has a desert climate 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). Winters are cool and windy, with the balance of Las Vegas' annual 4 inches (102 mm) of rainfall coming from January to March. Only rarely are showers seen in Spring or Fall. July through September, the Mexican Monsoon often brings enough moisture from the Gulf of Mexico across Mexico and into the US southwest to cause afternoon thunderstorms. Although winter snows are frequently visible on the mountains surrounding the valley, it rarely snows in Las Vegas itself. On December 30, 2003, the city woke up to 2 inches (51 mm) of snow. It melted the same day as temperatures reached near 50°F (14°C).
Because Las Vegas is in a valley, the rare instance of intense precipitation can cause heavy flooding. For example, an unprecedented thunderstorm hit the northwest part of the city for two hours in August of 2003, causing some hail damage and considerable water damage. Heavy localized flooding occurred, with property damage reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
To help alleviate the damage caused by flooding, the city has spent millions of dollars to build large concrete drainage areas throughout the area. The hope is that these open-top drainage areas — each 10 x 15 x 13 feet (3 x 4 x 4.5 m) — will help ease the flow of water when flooding does occur.
The mountains ringing the valley can also act to trap smog and other pollutants, leading to poor air quality.
Las Vegas is one of the largest cities in the United States to have no major-league level professional sports teams. Several reasons have been cited for this:
- Las Vegas only became a large market very recently.
- The perceived stigma of legal sports betting may be seen as being in conflict of interest with any potential pro sports team being located in Las Vegas by the NBA, the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NHL. The former three leagues have especially strong anti-gambling policies. There are currently no laws preventing Nevada sports books from accepting bets on local professional teams, and many casinos have said they would not voluntarily take a local team "off the boards."
- Some potential owners believe a professional sports franchise would have serious difficulty competing for an audience in a city with so many entertainment options.
- Las Vegas is still a relatively small television market, because the larger outlying areas were all drawn into the markets of larger cities farther away decades ago. For example, (St. George, Utah is now part of the Salt Lake City market, and Bullhead City, Arizona is part of the Phoenix market). Las Vegas' TV market has been ranked as the 51st largest in the US, behind places like Albuquerque, Greensboro, Harrisburg, and Hartford.
Las Vegas does have the following minor league sports and pro tour events:
The Las Vegas Posse was a former Canadian Football League team that played at Sam Boyd Stadium, which was also home to the Las Vegas Outlaws during the one XFL football season. The Las Vegas Thunder played in the now-defunct International Hockey League for six seasons, from 1993 to 1999.
Las Vegas has become an internationally known motor racing locale having hosted the elite Formula One racers at Caesars Palace and the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) for Indy racers in the early "80's. Las Vegas was also the home of the famed "Mint 400" Desert Race from 1968-1987 run in the unforgiving Nevada desert outside Las Vegas. Nearly 100,000 spectators lined the 100 mile loop to view the 500+ off road racing vehicles. Sponsored by Del Webb's Mint Hotel and Casino, the event was the largest and richest event in the sport. The technical and safety inspection was held on famed Fremont Street and became one of the major must attend sporting events in Las Vegas history. The race ended when Del Webb organization sold the Mint Hotel to the adjacent Horseshoe owned by the legendary Binion gaming family.
Las Vegas is also host to many professional boxing matches and has hosted many heavyweight boxing championship bouts. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels (Runnin' Rebels is used only by the men's basketball program) host Mountain West Conference events on the UNLV campus and eight miles east, at Sam Boyd Stadium. Indoor sporting events involving UNLV teams are held at the Thomas & Mack Center complex, both at the main arena and at Cox Pavilion, a smaller arena attached to the complex.
In April 2004, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig publicly revealed that MLB was considering Las Vegas as a potential future home for the Montreal Expos. However, MLB eventually chose Washington, D.C. as the Expos' new home.
The Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail, Sahara Station
After many delays, the Robert N. Broadbent Las Vegas Monorail opened on July 15, 2004. It begins at the MGM Grand at the south end of the Strip, and then runs roughly parallel to the Strip on its eastern side. The monorail passes next to the Las Vegas Hilton and the Convention Center before ending at the Sahara at the north of the Strip. It takes about 14 minutes to travel its total distance of 3.9 miles (about 6.3 kilometers). The fare is $3 one way or $10 for an all-day pass. The monorail system is planned to add a 2.3 mile (3.7 kilometer) extension to Fremont Street and downtown Las Vegas with construction beginning in 2005 and service beginning in 2008.
Since the planned opening of the monorail system in early 2004, it has suffered several malfunctions that first delayed the start of passenger service and then (on September 8, 2004) led to the closing of the monorail entirely for an extended period. A number of repairs have been made to the monorail cars, but the monorail system must undergo a lengthy "commissioning" process each time it breaks down, to confirm the effectiveness of the repairs. The local press has reported that each additional day of shutdown costs the system approximately $85,000 per day, and that over $8.3 million dollars was lost during the most recent shutdown. The current commissioning process was expected to last until the end of the year, but on December 24, 2004, the Clark County regulators approved a restart of the system.
McCarran International Airport is amongst the United States' busiest airports. The growth of the Strip to the south has meant that the airport is now very close to the heart of Las Vegas.
The CAT Bus (Citizens Area Transit) is the most popular means of public transportation among locals and tourists with 51 bus routes operating all over the valley.