What Happens in Vegas
Las Vegas NV
Las Vegas (Spanish for The Meadows) is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada, the seat of Clark County, and an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, fine dining, and entertainment. Las Vegas, which bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, is famous for the number of casino resorts and associated entertainment. A growing retirement and family city, it is the 28th most populous city in the United States.
Established in 1905, Las Vegas officially became a city in 1911. With the growth that followed, at the close of the century Las Vegas was the most populous American city founded in the 20th 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. Outdoor lighting displays are everywhere on the Las Vegas Strip and are seen elsewhere in the city as well. As seen from space, the Las Vegas metropolitan area is the brightest on Earth.
The name Las Vegas is often applied to unincorporated areas that surround the city, especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip. This 4 mile (6.5-km) stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is partly in the Las Vegas city limits, but mainly in the unincorporated communities of Paradise and Winchester, and continues partly into unincorporated Enterprise.
Climate: Las Vegas’ climate is an arid desert climate typical of the Mojave Desert in which it lies. The city enjoys abundant sunshine year-round and has about an average of 300 sunshine days a year, with very little rainfall. The summer months of June through September are very hot and mostly dry with average daytime highs of 94–104 °F and nighttime lows of 69–78 °F ; and most days in July and August exceed 100°Fs (38°Cs) but with very low humidity, frequently under 10%.
Las Vegas’ winters are of short duration and the season is generally mild, with daytime highs near 60 degrees and nighttime lows around 40 degrees. The mountains surrounding Las Vegas accumulate snow during the winter but snow is rare in the Las Vegas Valley itself. Several years apart, however, snow has fallen in the valley. Temperatures can sometimes drop to freezing (32 °F/0 °C) but winter nighttime temperatures will rarely dip below 30 degrees. Annual precipitation in Las Vegas is around 4.5 inches (114 mm), which mainly occurs during winter but is not uncommon anytime of the year.
Economy: 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. The city serves as world headquarters for the world’s two largest Fortune 500 gaming companies, Harrah’s Entertainment and MGM Mirage. Several companies involved in the manufacture of electronic gaming machines, such as slot machines, are located in the Las Vegas area. In the 2000s retail and dining have become attractions of their own. Tourism marketing and promotion are handled by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a county wide agency. Its annual Visitors Survey provides detailed information on visitor numbers, spending patterns and resulting revenues.
Some technology companies have either relocated to Las Vegas or were created there. For various reasons, the Las Vegas area has had a high concentration of technology companies in electronic gaming and telecommunications industries. Some current technology companies in southern Nevada include Bigelow Aerospace, CommPartners, Datanamics, eVital Communications, Petroglyph, SkywireMedia, Switch Communications, and WorldDoc. Companies that originally were formed in Las Vegas, but have since sold or relocated include Westwood Studios (sold to Electronic Arts), Systems Research & Development (Sold to IBM), Yellowpages.com (Sold to Bellsouth and SBC), and MPower Communications.
Constant population growth means that the housing construction industry is vitally important. In 2000 more than 21,000 new homes and 26,000 resale homes were purchased. In early 2005 there were 20 residential development projects of more than 300 acres (1.2 km2) each underway.
Mortal Population Density: 603,093 in Las Vegas proper, 1.8 million in the greater metropolitan area
Natural Surroundings: Mojave Desert, Frenchman Mountain (Great Unconformity), Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
History: The first reported visit to the valley by someone of European descent was Raphael Rivera in 1829. Las Vegas was named 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 (vegas 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 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, serving as a stopover for travelers along the “Mormon Corridor” between Salt Lake and the briefly thriving colony of saints at San Bernardino, California. However, Mormons abandoned Las Vegas in 1857. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres owned by Montana Senator William A. Clark’s San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, was auctioned off in what is now downtown Las Vegas. Las Vegas was part of Lincoln County until 1909 when it became part of the newly established Clark County. Las Vegas became an incorporated city on March 16, 1911.
Gambling was legalized in the city on March 19, 1931. On December 26, 1946, Bugsy Siegel opened the infamous Flamingo Hotel in Paradise on what would later become the Las Vegas Strip. The Hoover Dam was completed on October 9, 1936 outside Boulder City and above ground nuclear testing was conducted at the Nevada Test Site in Nye County from 1951 to 1962. The era of megaresort casinos in Clark County began on November 22, 1989, with the opening of The Mirage.
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 those around the town of Bullfrog, which shipped their goods out 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 the growth of residents and tourism. The dam, located 30 miles southeast of the city, also formed Lake Mead, the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir. Today, tours are offered into lesser known parts of the dam.
The legalization of gambling in 1931 led to the advent of the casino-hotels, for which Las Vegas is famous. The success of the city’s initial casino businesses was owed to American organized crime. Most of the original large casinos were managed or at least funded under mob figures Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Meyer Lansky or other mob figures at this time. With the arrival of billionaire Howard Hughes in the late 1960s, who purchased many casino-hotels and television stations in the city, legitimate corporations began to purchase casino-hotels as well, and the mob was run out by the federal government over the next several years. The constant stream of tourist dollars from the hotels and casinos was also 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.