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Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS. A tourist economy and federal largesse made Las Vegas, Nevada, the only American metropolitan area founded in the twentieth century to reach one million in population. Yet its past and present are more complex and connected than its "sin city" image suggests.

Before the Neon

Native Americans lived in southern Nevada for thousands of years. Southern Paiutes were the only residents when Rafael Rivera, scouting for Mexican traders, became the first non-Native visitor in January 1830. In May 1844, John Frémont's mapmaking expedition named the area "Las Vegas," Spanish for "the Meadows," for its water and grass.

Aware of Frémont's description, the Mormon leader Brigham Young chose Las Vegas for a mission. Arriving on 14 June 1855, missionaries built a fort, part of which still stands. They left within three years. The miner Octavius Gass started buying land in 1865 and eventually owned nearly 1,000 acres, until old debts cost him his holdings. After the new owner, Archibald Stewart, died in a gunfight in 1884, his widow, Helen, ran the ranch until 1902, selling all but 160 acres to Senator William Clark, a Montana copper baron planning a Los Angeles-to-Salt Lake railroad. When the Union Pacific threatened to compete, they became partners.

After Clark auctioned land on 15 May 1905, Las Vegas became a railroad town, serving passengers and servicing trains. A railroad subsidiary, the Las Vegas Land and Water Company, controlled municipal improvements while limiting growth. Named Clark County seat in 1909 and incorporated as a city in 1911, Las Vegas catered to sin with the red-light district known as Block 16, which offered drinking, gambling, and prostitution despite laws to the contrary.


The Prewar and Postwar Boom

Hoover Dam construction, begun in March 1931, changed Las Vegas forever. Depression victims poured in, seeking jobs. The federal government built Boulder City to house workers, whose trips downtown boosted the economy—as did the dam's visitors, prompting Las Vegas to market itself as a tourist venue with the annual Helldorado, with parade and rodeo. The New Deal promoted growth: Nevada led the nation in per capita federal spending, and Las Vegas received such projects as a school and parks.

Democratic control of the presidency and Congress aided Las Vegas. Nevada Senator Pat McCarran, elected in 1932, used his seniority and power to obtain federal projects, thereby infusing payroll and attracting new residents. An Army Air Corps gunnery school opened in 1941 and became Nellis Air Force Base, still a key source of jobs and spending. To the southeast, the Basic Magnesium plant refined manganese for the war; the surrounding town, Henderson, housed southern Nevada's only heavy industry as the plant moved into chemical production and research. Northwest of town, the Nevada Test Site opened in 1951 and began conducting aboveground (later underground) atomic tests; while testing was discontinued, the site still supported research at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Las Vegas increasingly relied on gambling, which the state legalized in 1931. The downtown area benefited, especially in the late 1930s, and many illegal gamblers driven out of California relocated to Las Vegas. During World War II, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, representing gangster Meyer Lansky, invested in downtown casinos


and took over construction of the Flamingo on the nascent "strip." The El Rancho Vegas became the Las Vegas Strip's first resort in 1941, followed in 1942 by the Hotel Last Frontier—both were ranch-style. The Flamingo, Las Vegas's first luxury resort, opened late in 1946, but proved unprofitable. Its turnaround came too late for Siegel, who was killed in July 1947.

The Flamingo's profits inspired more organized crime investment, while for their part gamblers relished practicing their trade legally. A spate of hotel-casinos opened in the 1950s and 1960s, often with loans from the Teamsters and the Bank of Las Vegas, the first bank to loan to casinos; most lenders disdained gambling and feared that mobsters would refuse to repay loans. A disproportionate number of casino owners were Jewish, expanding an already thriving Jewish community.

Las Vegas's image suffered not only for its criminal connections but also for its reputation as the "Mississippi of the West." Banned from patronizing resorts where they performed, black entertainers stayed in segregated West Las Vegas until the late 1950s. While a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter formed in the late 1920s, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s—by which time the black population had grown larger and had gained an organized, educated leadership—that discrimination was overcome. Thus, Las Vegas reflected the national civil rights movement, complete with unrest and lawsuits.

The Age of Legitimacy?

The last third of the century brought corporatization to Las Vegas and casinos to new jurisdictions. State laws passed in 1967 and 1969 enabled publicly traded companies to buy casinos; previously, every stockholder would have been licensed. Thus, Kirk Kerkorian built the International, bought the Flamingo, and sold both to Hilton; he subsequently built the MGM Grand. Steve Wynn parlayed a Bank of Las Vegas loan and a small piece of Strip property into ownership of the Golden Nugget. Aided by junk bond trader Michael Milken, Wynn built the Mirage, Treasure Island, and Bellagio, and owned other properties outside Las Vegas, before Kerkorian took over his Mirage Resorts in 2000. Local operators such as the Boyd Group, Station Casinos, and Harrah's became publicly traded, invested elsewhere, or teamed with Indian reservations operating casinos.

Las Vegas also reinvented itself. "Theming" went back to the 1930s, when operators patterned casinos on the Old West; Caesars Palace's Roman statuary restored the idea in the 1960s. Megaresort builders in the 1990s imploded old resorts, often replaced by replicas—the Luxor (Egypt), Excalibur (medieval castles), Paris, and New York, New York—and enormous properties that were almost cities unto themselves, such as the 5,000-plus-room MGM Grand and the Venetian. By 2001, Las Vegas boasted more than 120,000 hotel rooms, filled annually by millions of tourists.

The city fueled and benefited from this growth. Each census revealed Las Vegas as one of the fastest-growing American cities, if not the fastest, with the population doubling or nearly doubling every decade. The once physically small city expanded as the Howard Hughes Corporation developed Summerlin to the northwest. Green Valley helped Henderson evolve from an industrial city into a suburb. Three Sun City communities attracted "snowbirds" escaping cold winters or retirees seeking an active lifestyle and moderate cost of living. Latinos grew in influence and topped 20 percent of the population in the 2000 census. That same census showed Las Vegas to be home to 1,375,765 of Nevada's 1,998,257 residents, and more ethnically diverse than the rest of the state.

Understandably, problems accompanied growth. Growing suburban communities prompted white flight from the inner city. Schools were overcrowded. Newcomers understandably lacked a sense of community and history, prompting apathy about local affairs and difficulties in developing a cultural community—no performing arts center and classical music companies beset by financial troubles. Downtown declined and redevelopment proved difficult, while the county government controlled prime land, including the Strip. Gaming and other businesses sometimes clashed over economic diversification, yet shared ample political power. Las Vegas enjoyed a large majority in the state legislature, but its delegation voted more by party than region.

While obtaining water from Arizona's allotment from the Colorado River appeared to ease concern over Las Vegas's ability to maintain an adequate water supply, debates still raged over air quality, education, traffic, the tax structure, and concentrated political power. Neither Las Vegas's success, nor its troubles, seemed likely to abate as the twenty-first century began.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Denton, Sally, and Roger Morris. The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947–2000. New York: Knopf, 2001.

Elliott, Gary E. The New Western Frontier: An Illustrated History of Greater Las Vegas. Encinitas, Calif.: Heritage, 1999.

Gottdiener, M., Claudia Collins, and David R. Dickens. Las Vegas: The Social Production of an All-American City. London: Blackwell, 1998.

Hopkins, A. D., and K. J. Evans, eds. The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas. Las Vegas: Huntington Press, 1999.

Moehring, Eugene P. Resort City in the Sunbelt: Las Vegas, 1930– 2000. 2d rev. ed. Reno and Las Vegas: University of Nevada Press, 2000.

Michael S.Green

See alsoCrime, Organized ; Gambling ; Nevada ; Resorts and Spas .

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Las Vegas: Economy

Las Vegas: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Tourism drives the economy in Las Vegas, with 37 million people visiting the city each year. According to the University of Nevada's Center for Business and Economic Research Center, the figure for visitor spending in 2004 was a staggering $33.7 billion. In 2004, 20 percent of all jobs were gaming-related.

Though many miles away, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, had a devastating effect on the Las Vegas economy, costing thousands who worked in the entertainment and service industries their jobs in the weeks following. While the city had mostly recovered by 2003, other problems had set in, namely difficulties in drawing tourists to the other aspects of the city, in particular the downtown area. Developments in 2004 and 2005 are helping to revitalize the downtown economy.

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; more than one third of Las Vegas homes are only five years old or less. In early 2005 there were 20 residential development projects of more than 300 acres each currently underway.

While the entertainment and service industries are, collectively, the largest employers in Las Vegas, the major single employer is the Clark County School District.

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

To encourage industrial development, the Las Vegas business community works in cooperation with the state of Nevada to provide various incentives through minimal taxation, vocational training programs, no-cost site location services, special loan plans, and limited liability protection. The city is a foreign trade zone, making it an attractive foreign business destination.

State programs

In addition to Nevada's lenient tax structure, the state offers several programs to entice new business. Several tax abatement and tax deferral programs exist, as well as renewable energy abatements, industrial development bonds, global trade program, community development block grants, and others.

Job training programs

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation offers job training programs to both employers and job seekers, including applicant recruitment and screening, tax credit benefits, training programs and career enhancement programs, and labor market information. The Train Employees Now (TEN) program, administered by the State of Nevada Commission on Economic Development, helps new and expanding firms by providing intensive skills-based training programs tailored to the company's needs. The TEN program utilizes training providers such as local businesses and community colleges. Other programs exist through the area's educational institutions.

Development Projects

The 1990s saw major developments in the casino/resort area, with 18 new venues alone built in the last two years of the century, many themed after famous cities throughout the world. The race to build the most outrageous casino/resort in Las Vegas may be never-ending, but the area's more established resorts are quick to follow suit with expansions to match. When finished in late 2005, a $376 million expansion at Caesars Palace will include a 949-room, 26-story tower, which will bring the resort's number of hotel rooms to more than 3,300. Part of the expansion includes an addition to the resort's convention and meeting facilities, and upgrades to existing rooms and facilities.

Off "the Strip," the new Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel opened in December 2004 on Paradise Road adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center. It offers 548 rooms on 14 floors, a variety of amenities, and more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space.

Wynn Las Vegas opened in spring 2005, topping out at the world's most expensive casino resort with a price tag of $2.7 billion. On 217 acres and with 2,716 roomseach at a minimum of 630 square feet and built at a price tag of one million per roomthe hotel is extravagantly appointed. Wynn Las Vegas features an 18-hole golf course; its own Ferrari-Maserati dealership; an art gallery featuring the likes of Picasso, Vermeer, Cezanne, Gauguin, and Rembrandt; and 18 restaurants.

At any given time in Las Vegas, planned community developments are in various construction phases. Summerlin, one such community along the western rim of the Las Vegas Valley, is the fastest growing master planned community in the country. At 22,500 acres and with 16 separate villages each with its own major park, golf course, and schools, Summerlin will continue to grow with new homes and residents until approximately 2020.

As part of efforts to revitalize the downtown area, in 2005 the Internal Revenue Service moved into its new home in a 61-acre former railroad yard west of the casino districtan area targeted by city officials for development.

Economic Development Information: Office of Business Development, City of Las Vegas, 400 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89101; telephone (702)229-6551; fax (702)385-3128. City of Las Vegas Economic Development Division, telephone (702)229-6551. Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, 3720 Howard Hughes Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV, 89109-0320; telephone (702)735-1616; fax (702) 735-2011; email info@lvchamber.com

Commercial Shipping

McCarran International Airport handles more than 600,000 pounds of arriving and departing cargo annually; the airport's Air Cargo Center offers cargo storage and handling services in a designated Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). Other warehousing and support services are available, including package support and U.S. customs service. More than 50 motor freight carriers serve Southern Clark County, which is the hub of an extensive transportation network serviced by three highway corridors consisting of Interstate 15, U.S. Highway 95, and U.S. Highway 93. Union Pacific Railroad runs northeast/southwest through the county.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The labor force in Las Vegas continues to expand as people move into the region in record numbers (approximately 6,000 each month). Las Vegas boasts the highest rate of new job growth in the country. The Las Vegas job base continues to expand at record rates; by December 2005 that rate was 8 percent, the fastest pace in the nation. The gaming and hospitality industries in Las Vegas are expected to continue to improve.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Las Vegas metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 811,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 400

construction: 88,100

manufacturing: 23,200

trade, transportation and utilities: 140,000

information: 10,200

financial activities: 46,000

professional and business services: 95,400

educational and health services: 53,900

leisure and hospitality: 247,600

other services: 23,500

government: 83,100

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.60 (Nevada average)

Unemployment rate: 4.0% (February 2005)

Largest county employers Number of employees
Clark County School District 20,000+
Clark County 9,000-9,999
Bellagio Hotel & Casino 8,000-8,999
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino 7,000-7,999
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino 7,000-7,999
Mirage Hotel & Casino 5,000-5,999
State of Nevada 5,000-5,999
Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino 4,000-4,999
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police 4,000-4,999
University of Nevada, Las Vegas 4,000-4,999

Cost of Living

Nevada's low taxes make everything else cheaper: wages, rents, and energy costs. The average rent of a two bedroom apartment at the end of 2004 was $752 per month.

The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Las Vegas area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 113.3 (U.S. average = 100.0)

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $353,798

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: 7.5%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 7.5% (9% hotel room tax)

Property tax rate: 3.0815% of assessed value

Economic Information: Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, 3720 Howard Hughes Pkwy., Las Vegas, NV, 89109-0320; telephone (702) 735-1616; fax (702)735-2011; email info @lvchamber.com. Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, Information Development and Processing, Research and Analysis Bureau, 500 E. Third St., Carson City, NV 89713-0001; telephone (775)684-0450; email lmi@govmail.state.nv.us.

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Las Vegas: Recreation

Las Vegas: Recreation

Sightseeing

Most people visit Las Vegas to see shows featuring world-famous entertainers and to try their luck at the gaming tables. But the city offers much more to see and do. The streets of Las Vegas, with neon and glittering lights, are themselves a popular attraction. Also within the city limits is the Old Mormon Fort; built in 1855, it is the oldest structure in the area and tours are offered daily.

East of the city, Lake Mead National Recreation area boasts 500 miles of scenic shoreline created when the Hoover Dam was constructed. Located 30 miles southeast of the city is Hoover Dam, the tallest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere. The popular site draws about one million visitors annually to its tourist center while millions more drive over it. Only 15 miles west of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon, where a 13-mile scenic route winds through a natural landscape inhabited by wild burros and bighorn sheep; hikers and bicyclists can also enjoy 30 miles of trails. Some 40 miles north, the Valley of Fire State Park contains beautiful desert land, rock formations, and rock drawings surviving from ancient civilizations. Tour buses travel from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona, where visitors can choose from hiking, camping, biking, fishing, and boating. Several ghost towns are within an hour's drive of Las Vegas; Bonnie Springs Old Nevada, southwest of the city, is a recreated town that evokes the lawless days of the Old West.

Arts and Culture

World famous for entertainment, Las Vegas is a city where nightlife lasts 24 hours a day and spectacular casino resorts and venues feature international stars. There is also an active and acclaimed arts community in Las Vegas; theater, dance, and concert performances as well as lectures are staged at the Reed Whipple Cultural Arts Center. The center is home to the Las Vegas All-Star High School Jazz Band, the Las Vegas Youth Orchestra, and the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre. The Charleston Heights Arts Center presents theater and musical performances as well as exhibits by local and regional artists. The Community College of Southern Nevada offers dance, theater, and musical performances.

The University of Nevada at Las Vegas, with three performing arts venues, is the heart of the cultural community. The university hosts performances by Nevada Ballet Theatre, Symphony Orchestra, Sierra Wind Quintet, Chamber Music Southwest, and the Charles Vanda Master Series.

The Las Vegas Clark County Library District kicked off a partnership with the Nevada Chamber Symphony for the 2004-2005 season, with concerts scheduled in the Clark County Library on Flamingo Road. The Library District also hosts theatrical, dance, and other musical performances.

Several museums are located in the city. The Liberace Museum exhibits a collection of rare pianos, including pianos owned by Frederic Chopin and George Gershwin. The Nevada State Museum and Historical Society specializes in the natural history of Southern Nevada, while the Las Vegas Natural History Museum focuses on the region's wildlife and natural environment, both past and present. The Lied Discovery Children's Museum offers 100 hands-on exhibits that let children explore science, arts, and humanities in a fun and educational way.

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in the Bellagio Resort features two to three exhibitions annually, with works from top art museums and private collections. The Las Vegas Art Museum offers more than 170 works from a variety of mediums. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas maintains an art gallery in the Ham Fine Arts Building on campus, featuring the work of faculty members, touring artists, and students. Las Vegas area commercial galleries show the work of local and nationally known artists.

Festivals and Holidays

Las Vegas hosted a year of celebratory events throughout 2005, including festivals, concerts, exhibits, theater, and events honoring the city's history and unique style.

Las Vegas hosts the Antiquarian and Used Book Fair in January. The entire month of May is designated Jazz Month, showcasing local and national artists. Helldorado Days in May celebrate the Old West era with rodeos and parades. The Greek Festival in October features authentic food and dancing. National Finals Rodeo is held in December.

Sports for the Spectator

Las Vegas hosts a number of national sports competitions, including the Michelin Championship golf tournament of the PGA Tour, Seniors Golf, and the National Finals Rodeo. The city also has a baseball team, the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple A farm club of professional baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers, who play at Cashmen Field. The AFL's Las Vegas Gladiators play professional indoor football at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Las Vegas Wranglers, members of the ECHL Division, also play at the Thomas & Mack Center. Collegiate sports are represented by the UNLV Rebels basketball team plus teams who play golf, baseball, soccer, football, and women's basketball. Championship boxing events are scheduled year-round in Las Vegas.

Sports for the Participant

Although Las Vegas is in the desert, there are facilities for a number of water sports, including fishing, boating, waterskiing, and canoeing at nearby Lake Mead and on the Colorado River. Las Vegas City parks and Clark County parks continue to be developed to meet the needs of an expanding population; both provide a variety of athletic programming, tennis courts and ballfields, swimming pools, golf courses, community centers, activities, classes, and workshops. Wet 'n' Wild, located on the Strip, is a 26-acre water park that contains water slides, a wave pool, and swimming area. More than 30 golf courses exist in the area.

Shopping and Dining

Shopping center construction is constantly taking place in the city. A major attraction is the $100 million Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, which opened in 1992 and expanded to 675,000 square feet (an increase of 175,000 square feet) in 2004 that brought its entrance to a prominent position on Las Vegas Boulevard. Described as combining the opulence of Rodeo Drive with the glitter of the Las Vegas Strip, the Roman-inspired complex houses about 160 upscale shops, art galleries, and a $5 million animated fountain. The Galleria at Sunset Mall in nearby Henderson features one million square feet of enclosed mall space anchored by four department stores and housing more than 140 specialty shops. Boulevard Mall is Nevada's largest indoor shopping mall with 150 shops. The Fashion Show has seven anchor stores and features "The Cloud," a canopy that is suspended 20 stories over the mall and serves the dual purpose of sunshade during the day and movie projection screen at night. Unusual shopping experiences can be found at the medieval-themed Shopping Courtyard with live jousting between stores and all that is French at the Rue de la Paix center.

More than 750 restaurants with choices ranging from haute cuisine to inexpensive fare, are located in Las Vegas. One such place is Spago, run by internationally-known chef Wolfgang Puck, who uses French cooking techniques to create an eclectic menu. Puck also features a more casual bar and grill within the city bearing his name. In 2004 Bobby Flay, successful chef and star of a popular television show on the Food Network, opened the Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace. Major resort hotels all feature gourmet menus; most hotels on "the Strip" and downtown offer buffet dining. Some examples of the culinary variety available include: AJ's Steakhouse, located in the Hard Rock Hotel; Hard Rock Cafe, residing just outside of the hotel; Planet Hollywood, at Caesars Palace; and the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, inside the Paris Las Vegas Hotel that is shaped to resemble the famous French structure.

Visitor Information: Las Vegas Visitor Information Center, 3150 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89109-9096; telephone (702)892-7575; toll-free (877)VISITLV

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Las Vegas: Education and Research

Las Vegas: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Clark County School District is divided into five regions and educates about 250,000 students in the entirety of Clark County with a total of 186 elementary, 51 middle, 38 high schools, 28 alternative schools, and 8 special schools or programs. Las Vegas proper is served by the district's Southeast Region. Several grants were recently awarded the school system: the Local Plan grant provides $40 million for expansion and improvements to programs serving students with disabilities; the Gear Up program will provide $845,000 towards efforts to decrease dropout rates, raise academic achievement in the high schools, and development of college preparatory coursework; the Library Books grant will provide $253,000 for library purchases in the elementary and secondary schools. The school district is constantly expanding; in 2002 the district reported a "typical year" as including 14,000 new students, 12-14 new schools, and 1,300 new employees.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Southeast Region of the Clark County School District public schools.

Total enrollment: 58,268 (2003-2004)

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 39

junior high/middle schools: 12

senior high schools:

other: 1 vocational trade center

Student/teacher ratio: 18:1 elementary; 30:1 secondary

Teacher salaries (2004-2005)

minimum: $37,354

maximum: $57,480

Funding per pupil: $5,501

Twenty-eight private and parochial elementary and secondary schools serve the Las Vegas metropolitan area. There are also more than 90 pre-schools and day care centers.

Public Schools Information: Clark County School District, 2832 East Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89121; telephone (702)799-5011

Colleges and Universities

Officially opened in 1957 and occupying 337 acres in the metropolitan area, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas enrolled 27,000 students in 2004 and offers them more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs; engineering, computer science, business, economics, and hotel management are especially strong fields. The university also has a School of Medicine that is affiliated with the University Medical Center, and a School of Dental Medicine. Located in the Las Vegas area are the three campuses of the Community College of Southern Nevada (CCSN), the largest institution in the University of Nevada System, enrolling more than 30,000 students including those taking online courses. Among the top disciplines at CCSN are dental hygiene, culinary arts, computing and information technologies, resorts and gaming, nursing and other health professions, automotive technology, air conditioning, and criminal justice. The International Academy of Design & Technology offers two- and four-year programs in Fashion Design, Interior Design, and Visual Communications.

Libraries and Research Centers

Located in one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States, the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District supports more than 850,000 area residents with 24 branches and a comprehensive resource of informational materials. Serving an area larger than the state of Connecticut, the system's collection exceeds 2.3 million items and includes special collections focusing on fine art, the Southwestern region, the building and construction industry and trades, grants and foundations, health sciences, business and finance, aviation, Nevada history, and the hotel and gaming industry. The library is a depository for federal and state government documents.

A variety of specialized or research libraries are also located in Las Vegas; most are affiliated with local corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints maintains a branch of its genealogical library in Las Vegas. Desert Research Institute's research centers carry out about 300 projects focusing on the environment each year. Other research activities in the region focus on the natural history, exercise physiology, computer science, information sciences, and business and economics.

Public Library Information: Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, 833 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas, NV 89101; telephone (702)382-3493

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Las Vegas: History

Las Vegas: History

Forts Built; Farmers Settle; Hoover Dam Built

Las Vegas was discovered by Spanish explorers, who gave the site its namemeaning "meadows"because of the verdant grassland fed by natural aquifers. Las Vegas served as a watering place on the Spanish trail to California. In 1855 Mormon missionaries established a settlement, cultivating the land and building a fort to provide protection to travelers on the Salt LakeLos Angeles Trail. They abandoned the place two years later when the enterprise became unprofitable, but their fort is still standing and is the oldest historical site in Las Vegas. In 1864 Fort Baker, a U.S. Army post, was built nearby; in 1867 Las Vegas was detached from the Arizona territory and became part of the Nevada territory.

Around that time Las Vegas began to expand as a series of farmers cultivated the land. The area encompassed 1,800 acres when it was sold to William Clark, a Montana senator. In 1905 Clark auctioned off parcels of land for the building of the Union Pacific Railroad link between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. The town was incorporated in 1911. Construction on the Hoover Damoriginally the Boulder Damon the Colorado River was begun in 1931, bringing to the area thousands of men seeking employment. The seventy-story-high dam, which is regarded as one of the wonders of the modern world, still supplies affordable power to parts of California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Gaming, Lenient Laws, Climate Attract Visitors, Settlers

Another significant event occurred in 1931: the legalization of casino gambling in Nevada. The gaming and entertainment industries boomed in Las Vegas after World War II. A street lined with large, glittering casino hotels came to be known as the "Strip"; downtown, in Casino Center, lavish palaces featured the country's top entertainers. By the 1950s Las Vegas, dubbed the "Entertainment Capital of the World," had become synonymous with the unique form of recreation it had created. Because of lenient state laws, Las Vegas also became popular as a wedding site; eventually wedding chapels were operating around the clock, and each year thousands of couples were coming to the city to be married.

Since the 1930s Las Vegas's population has steadily increased, jumping from slightly under 8,500 people in 1940 to nearly 25,000 people in 1950. By 1960 almost 65,000 people lived in Las Vegas, and in 1980 the census figure was 164,674 people. Between 1980 and 1990 there was a more than 60 percent increase, or a total of 278,000 people. Newcomers, primarily from California, are attracted by the favorable climate, the high standard of living, low tax rate, and jobs produced by a boom in business and the entertainment and gaming industries. In the 1990s an average of 6,000 to 7,000 people moved into Clark County each month; that figure remains in the mid-2000s.

Las Vegas' population continues to grow by leaps and bounds, nearly doubling between 1990 and 2000, with no real signs of slowing. On May 15, 2005, Las Vegas celebrated its centennial birthday with citywide parties and events on the day and throughout the yearone such celebration included a 130,000 pound cake registered with the Guinness Book of World Records.

Historical Information: Nevada State Museum & Historical Society, 700 Twin Lakes Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89107; telephone (702)486-5205

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Las Vegas: Communications

Las Vegas: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The major daily newspaper is the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a morning paper. Las Vegas Sentinel-Voice is a weekly African American community newspaper, and the Sun is a general weekly community newspaper. Nevada Senior World is a monthly newspaper focusing on active seniors. Several small, special interest journals and magazines are also published in the city; among them are Nevada Business Journal, which focuses on the Nevada business climate, and What's On In Las Vegas Magazine, published every other week. Other publications include scholarly journals, and Jewish publications, and those focused on art, foodservice, and business.

Television and Radio

Four commercial and one public television stations broadcast in Las Vegas. Cable television service is available by subscription.

Sixteen AM and FM radio stations broadcast from Las Vegas, featuring diverse programming, including news, information, and music ranging from jazz to classical. Additional stations are received from surrounding communities.

Media Information: Las Vegas Review-Journal, PO Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125; telephone (702)383-0211

Las Vegas Online

Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Available www.unlv.edu/ResearchCenters/cber

City of Las Vegas home page. Available www.lasvegas nevada.gov

Clark County home page. Available www.co.clark.nv.us

Clark County School District. Available ccsd.net

Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Available www.lv chamber.com

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. Available www.lvccld.lib.nv.us

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Available www.lasvegas24hours.com

Las Vegas Review-Journal. Available www.reviewjournal.com

Las Vegas Sun. Available www.lasvegassun.com

Nevada State Museum and Historical Society. Available dmla.clan.lib.nv.us/docs/museums/lv/vegas.htm

"One City One Site." Available www.lasvegas.com

Vegas.com (entertainment, dining, attractions, book a room, travel tips). Available www.vegas.com

Selected Bibliography

Hopkins, A.D., and K.J. Evans, eds., The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shapes Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nev.: Huntington Press, 2000)

Kranes, David, Low Tide in the Desert: Nevada Stories (Las Vegas: University of Nevada, 1996)

Moehring, Eugene P., Resort City in the Sunbelt, Las Vegas 19301970 (U. of Nevada Press, 1989)

Vinson, Barney, Las Vegas Behind the Tables (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Gollehon, 1986)

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Las Vegas: Population Profile

Las Vegas: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 528,000

1990: 852,737

2000: 1,563,282

Percent change, 19902000: 83.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 72nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 53rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 32nd

City Residents

1980: 164,674

1990: 258,877

2000: 478,434

2003 estimate: 517,017

Percent change, 19902000: 84.1%

U.S. rank in 1980: 89th

U.S. rank in 1990: 63rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 39th (State rank: 1st)

Density: 4,222.5 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 334,230

Black or African American: 49,570

American Indian and Alaska Native: 3,570

Asian: 22,879

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 2,145

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 112,962

Other: 46,643

Percent of residents born in state: 19.7% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 36,900

Population 5 to 9 years old: 37,034

Population 10 to 14 years old: 32,467

Population 15 to 19 years old: 29,033

Population 20 to 24 years old: 30,616

Population 25 to 34 years old: 77,156

Population 35 to 44 years old: 76,139

Population 45 to 54 years old: 59,610

Population 55 to 59 years old: 23,896

Population 60 to 64 years old: 20,286

Population 65 to 74 years old: 33,985

Population 75 to 84 years old: 17,411

Population 85 years and older: 3,901

Median age: 34.5 years

Births (2002, Clark County)

Total number: 23,756

Deaths (2003, Clark County)

Total number: 12,751

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $22,060

Median household income: $44,069

Total households: 177,223

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 13,766

$10,000 to $14,999: 9,523

$15,000 to $24,999: 22,283

$25,000 to $34,999: 23,115

$35,000 to $49,999: 30,839

$50,000 to $74,999: 36,385

$75,000 to $99,999: 19,940

$100,000 to $149,999: 13,665

$150,000 to $199,999: 3,415

$200,000 or more: 4,292

Percent of families below poverty level: 8.6% (34.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 81,627

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas (läs vā´gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. Revenue from hotels (including many of the world's largest), gambling, entertainment, theme parks, resorts, and other tourist-oriented industries forms the backbone of the economy. The nightclubs, casinos, and championship boxing matches are world famous, and entertainment enterprises have led to an increasing array of music, sports, gambling, and amusement centers up and down the main "strip," as the city succeeded in the 1990s in redefining itself as a family resort, complete with monorail (opened 2004). Its 1,149-ft (350-m) Stratosphere Tower is the country's tallest observation tower. The city is also the commercial hub of a ranching and mining area and has diverse manufacturing, including gaming equipment.

In the 19th cent. Las Vegas was a watering place for travelers bound for southern California. In 1855–57 the Mormons maintained a fort there, and in 1864, Fort Baker was built by the U.S. army. In 1867 Las Vegas was detached from the Arizona Territory and joined to Nevada. Its main growth began with the completion of a railroad in 1905.

A campus of the Univ. of Nevada is there, and Las Vegas also has a number of museums, including ones devoted to natural history, old neon signs from the strip, the entertainer Liberace, and atomic testing. Nellis Air Force Base lies to the north of the city, and Hoover Dam is nearby.

See B. Vincent, Las Vegas behind the Tables (1988); E. P. Moehring, Resort City in the Sunbelt: Las Vegas, 1930–1970 (1989); N. Pileggi, Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas (1995); S. Denton and R. Morris, The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947–2000 (2001); H. Rothman, Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the Twenty-first Century (2002); L. Gragg, Bright Light City: Las Vegas in Popular Culture (2013).

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Las Vegas: Transportation

Las Vegas: Transportation

Approaching the City

Seemingly isolated in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas is, in fact, easily accessible. McCarran International Airport, located 5 miles south of the business district, is the 6th busiest airport in the United States; in 2005 the airport unveiled its new, $125 million expansion, an 11-gate wing that is expected to allow the airport to handle an addition 3.1 million passengers annually. Forty-four air carriers operate out of McCarran.

The city is served by three major highways. I-15 connects Las Vegas with Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. U.S. 95 leads into the city from the northwest and U.S. 93/95 enters from the southeast.

Amtrak Thruway provides bus service between Los Angeles, California, and Las Vegas. Greyhound provide bus service to and from nearby Las Vegas with connections throughout the west.

Traveling in the City

The streets of Las Vegas are laid out in a grid system. The primary north-south routes are Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevardlocally known as the "Strip"which runs parallel to I-15. Main east-west thoroughfares are Flamingo Road, Tropicana Avenue, and Sahara Avenue. Within the city U.S. 95 is known as the Las Vegas Expressway.

Citizens Area Transit (CAT) operates 49 routes to points throughout the city and metropolitan area, with buses and trolleys serving the "Strip" every fifteen minutes. CAT services extend throughout Clark County, providing service to 150,000 riders each day with 305 buses that cover 49 routes. The Las Vegas Monorail runs along a four mile route along "the Strip," linking major resorts, hotels, attractions, and the convention center. Plans to extend the route to downtown were being discussed in 2005.

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Las Vegas: Convention Facilities

Las Vegas: Convention Facilities

Las Vegas is among the nation's foremost meeting destinations, with convention trade being one of the city's major industries. Las Vegas hosted more than 5.7 million convention and meeting participants in 2004, which had an economic impact of more than $6.8 billion. More than 131,000 hotel rooms are available throughout Las Vegas. Along with entertainment and recreation, well-appointed meeting facilities and luxury hotels and resorts are the attractions that consistently draw large and small groups to the city. Las Vegas boasts more than 130,000 hotel and motel rooms citywide; 17 of the 20 largest hotels in the nation are located in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Convention Center, after expansions in the late 1990s and then further expansion in the early 2000s, encompasses 3.2 million square feet. Nearly 2 million square feet are available for exhibit space in 16 exhibit halls, while 144 meeting rooms (more than 243,000 square feet) handle seating capacities ranging from 20 to 5,500 people. A grand lobby and concourse area of 109,515 square feet, catering services, state-of-the-art technological service, and ample parking round out the offerings.

Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas contains more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, 12 meeting rooms, a 1,900-seat theater, and an outdoor stadium that seats 10,000 people. Many of the hotels and motels in the city provide facilities for large and small group functions.

Convention Information: LVCVA Meetings Division, 3150 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV 89109; telephone (702)892-0711; fax (702)892-2824 (ask for the Meetings Division)

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Las Vegas: Health Care

Las Vegas: Health Care

Among the 11 major hospitals serving the area is the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. With about 700 beds and 1,400 physicians, it maintains a 145-bed children's hospital along with centers for renal transplants, sleep disorders, and epilepsy. Affiliated with the University of Nevada School of Medicine, the University Medical Center (UMC) was named in 2004 among the top 50 hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for neurosurgery and neurology along with being the state's sole hospital on the annual "America's Best Hospitals" list. UMC's Lions Burn Care Center, the only such facility in Nevada, has gained national recognition; the center also maintains a free-standing trauma center and the state's first pediatric emergency department. Mountain View Hospital features 235 beds and 1,200 physicians while the Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center has 286 beds and is the only diabetes treatment center in the area accredited by the American Diabetes Association. In addition to its 409 beds and more than 2,800 staff members, Valley Hospital Medical Center also operates "Flight for Life," an emergency helicopter service for a wide area surrounding Las Vegas. The University of Nevada School of Medicine's Genetics Program, based in Las Vegas, offers counseling to prospective parents about inherited diseases and provides clinical care to children with birth defects.

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Las Vegas: Introduction
Las Vegas: Geography and Climate
Las Vegas: History
Las Vegas: Population Profile
Las Vegas: Municipal Government
Las Vegas: Economy
Las Vegas: Education and Research
Las Vegas: Health Care
Las Vegas: Recreation
Las Vegas: Convention Facilities
Las Vegas: Transportation
Las Vegas: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1905 (incorporated, 1911)

Head Official: Mayor Oscar B. Goodman (since 1999)

City Population

1980: 164,674

1990: 258,877

2000: 478,434

2003 estimate: 517,017

Percent change, 19902000: 84.1%

U.S. rank in 1980: 89th

U.S. rank in 1990: 63rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 39th (State rank: 1st)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 528,000

1990: 852,737

2000: 1,563,282

Percent change, 19902000: 83.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 72nd

U.S. rank in 1990: 53rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 32nd

Area: 113 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 2,180 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 67.1° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 4.16 inches

Major Industries: Gaming, tourism, mining, retailing, warehousing

Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (February 2005)

Per Capita Income: $22,060 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 81,627

Major Colleges and Universities: Nevada State College, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Community College of Southern Nevada

Daily Newspapers: Las Vegas Review Journal

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Las Vegas: Geography and Climate

Las Vegas: Geography and Climate

Las Vegas is located in the center of Vegas Valley, a desert region of about 600 square miles, which is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Spring Mountains. The seasons are hot, windy, and dry, with desert conditions and maximum temperatures of 100 degrees F during the summer; because of the mountains, however, summer nights are cool. Winters are mild. The mountains around Las Vegas reach elevations of over 10,000 feet, acting as barriers to moisture from the Pacific Ocean. Rainfall is minimal and there are about 216 clear days during the year. Snowfall is rare.

Area: 113 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 2,180 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 45.5° F; July, 91.1° F; annual average, 67.1° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 4.16 inches

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Las Vegas: Introduction

Las Vegas: Introduction

Las Vegas is unique among U.S. cities. Famous for luxury casinos and show palaces offering non-stop recreation on the "Strip" and in downtown Casino Center, the city has over the years become synonymous with glitter and glamour. Las Vegas since the late 1980s has acquired another identity as a center for business, finance, transportation, and services; still the "Entertainment Capital of the World," it has actively and successfully cultivated a diversified economy. The Las Vegas resident can enjoy legalized gaming, yet more often will take advantage of the diverse range of cultural and recreational opportunities offered in the city and in the surrounding area.

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas Largest city in Nevada, USA, in the s of the state. It is a world-famous gambling and entertainment centre. With more than 13 million visitors per year, it is one of the USA's major tourist destinations. The Mormons established a colony on the site in 1855–57. The modern city began with the arrival of the railway in 1905. Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, and the city grew rapidly. Its first big gambling casino opened in 1946, and by the 1970s gambling was earning the city more than US$1 million a day. Las Vegas is also the commercial centre for a mining and ranching area. Pop. (2000) 478,434.

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Las Vegas: Municipal Government

Las Vegas: Municipal Government

Las Vegas has a council-manager form of government. The five council members and the mayor are elected to four-year terms. The city's foremost spending priority is public safety.

Head Official: Mayor Oscar B. Goodman (since 1999; current term expires 2007)

Total Number of City Employees: 2,800 (2005)

City Information: City of Las Vegas, 400 East Stewart Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89101; telephone (702)229-6241; fax (702)385-7960

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas a city in southern Nevada noted for its casinos and nightclubs.

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Las Vegas

Las Vegashorrendous, stupendous, tremendous •Barbados • Indus • solidus • Lepidus •Midas, nidus •Aldous • Judas • Enceladus • exodus •hazardous • Dreyfus • Josephus •Sisyphus • typhus • Dollfuss •amorphous, anthropomorphous, polymorphous •rufous, Rufus •Angus • Argus •Las Vegas, magus, Tagus •negus •anilingus, cunnilingus, dingus, Mingus •bogus •fungous, fungus, humongous •anthropophagous, oesophagus (US esophagus), sarcophagus •analogous •homologous, tautologous •Areopagus • asparagus •Burgas, Fergus, Lycurgus •Carajás • frabjous •advantageous, contagious, courageous, outrageous, rampageous •egregious •irreligious, litigious, prestigious, prodigious, religious, sacrilegious •umbrageous • gorgeous

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