Colleges and UniversitiesUniversity of Nevada, Las Vegas Points of interestBellagio, Stratosphere Las Vegas, Fremont Street Experience, The Mirage, MGM Grand Las Vegas
Las Vegas, (locally, also pronounced as ) officially the City of Las Vegas and often known as simply Vegas, is a city in the United States, the most populous city in the state of Nevada, the county seat of Clark County, and the city proper of the Las Vegas Valley. 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 mega casino–hotels and associated entertainment. A growing retirement and family city, Las Vegas is the 30th-most populous city in the United States, with a population of 603,488 at the 2013 United States Census Estimates. The 2013 population of the Las Vegas metropolitan area was 2,027,828. The city is one of the top three leading destinations in the United States for conventions, business, and meetings and is one of the wealthiest major cities in the country. In addition, the citys metropolitan area has more AAA Five Diamond hotels than any other city in the world, and is a global leader in the hospitality industry. Today, Las Vegas is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
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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 similar distinction retained by Chicago in the 19th century). The citys tolerance for numerous forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City, and has made Las Vegas a popular setting for films, television programs, and music videos.
Las Vegas Strip is the brightest place on Earth when looked at from outer space.
Las Vegas is informally known as Hawaii’s 9th island, due to the city’s large community of Hawaiians.
The Bronze lion outside MGM Grand Hotel weighs 50 tons, making it the largest bronze sculpture in the country.
15 of the world’s top 25 hotels are located in Las Vegas.
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Las Vegas is generally used to describe not just the city itself, but 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 Las Vegas Strip is in the unincorporated communities of Paradise, Winchester, and Enterprise, located in Clark County.
Perhaps the earliest visitors to the Las Vegas area were nomadic Paleo-Indians, who traveled here 10,000 years ago, leaving behind petroglyphs. Anasazi and Paiute tribes followed at least 2,000 years ago.
A young Mexican scout named Rafael Rivera is credited as the first non-Native American to encounter the valley, in 1829. Trader Antonio Armijo led a 60-man party along the Spanish Trail to Los Angeles, California in 1829. The area was named Las Vegas, which is Spanish for "the meadows", as it featured abundant wild grasses, as well as desert spring waters for westward travelers. The year 1844 marked the arrival of John C. Fremont, whose writings helped lure pioneers to the area. Downtown Las Vegas Fremont Street is named after him.
Eleven years later members of the LDS Church chose Las Vegas as the site to build a fort halfway between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, where they would travel to gather supplies. The fort was abandoned several years afterward. The remainder of this Old Mormon Fort can still be seen at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington Avenue.
Las Vegas was founded as a city in 1905, when 110 acres (45 ha) of land adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks were auctioned in what would become the downtown area. In 1911, Las Vegas was incorporated as a city.
1931 was a pivotal year for Las Vegas. At that time, Nevada legalized casino gambling and reduced residency requirements for divorce to six weeks. This year also witnessed the beginning of construction on nearby Hoover Dam. The influx of construction workers and their families helped Las Vegas avoid economic calamity during the Great Depression. The construction work was completed in 1935.
In 1941, the Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School was established. Currently known as Nellis Air Force Base, it is home to the aerobatic team called the Thunderbirds.
Following World War II, lavishly decorated hotels, gambling casinos and big-name entertainment became synonymous with Las Vegas.
The 1950s saw the opening of the Moulin Rouge, the first racially integrated casino-hotel in Las Vegas.
In 1951, the first atomic bomb was detonated at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles (105 km) northwest of Las Vegas. City residents and visitors were able to witness the mushroom clouds until 1963 when the limited Test Ban Treaty required that nuclear tests be moved underground.
The iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, which was never located in the city, was created in 1959 by Betty Willis, who never copyrighted it.
During the 1960s, corporations and business powerhouses such as Howard Hughes were building and buying hotel-casino properties. Gambling was referred to as "gaming," which transitioned into legitimate business.
In 1989, entrepreneur Steve Wynn changed the face of the Las Vegas gaming industry by opening up The Mirage, the Las Vegas Strips first mega-casino resort.
The year 1995 marked the opening of the Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas downtown area. This canopied, five-block area features 12.5 million LED lights and 550,000 watts of sound from dusk until midnight during shows held on the top of each hour.
Due to years of revitalization efforts, 2012 was dubbed "The Year of Downtown". Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects made their debut at this time. They included The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and DISCOVERY Childrens Museum, the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum, a new City Hall complex and renovations for a new Zappos.com corporate headquarters in the old City Hall building.
Geography and climate
Las Vegas is situated within Clark County in a basin on the floor of the Mojave Desert and is surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides. Much of the landscape is rocky and arid with desert vegetation and wildlife. It can be subjected to torrential flash floods, although much has been done to mitigate the effects of flash floods through improved drainage systems.
The peaks surrounding Las Vegas reach elevations of over 10,000 feet (3,000 m), and act as barriers to the strong flow of moisture from the surrounding area. The elevation is approximately 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 has been a movement to encourage xeriscapes. Another part of conservation efforts is scheduled watering days for 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.
The primary drivers of the Las Vegas economy are tourism, gaming and conventions, which in turn feed the retail and restaurant industries.
The city is home to several museums including the Neon Museum (the location for many of the historical signs from Las Vegas mid-20th century heyday), The Mob Museum, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, the DISCOVERY Childrens Museum, the Nevada State Museum and the Old Las Vegas Mormon State Historic Park.
The city is home to an extensive Downtown Arts District which hosts numerous galleries and events. "First Friday" is a monthly celebration that includes arts, music, special presentations and food in a section of the citys downtown region called 18b, The Las Vegas Arts District. The festival extends into the Fremont East Entertainment District as well.
The Thursday prior to First Friday is known in the arts district as "Preview Thursday." This evening event highlights new gallery exhibitions throughout the district.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts is situated downtown in Symphony Park. The world-class performing arts center hosts Broadway shows and other major touring attractions, as well as orchestral, opera, ballet, choir, jazz, and dance performances.