Las Vegas is the most populous city in the state of Nevada, United States. The city is the largest to be founded in the 20th century, and is a major vacation, shopping, and gambling destination.
Las Vegas was established in 1905, and officially became a city in 1911.
Las Vegas is the principal city of Nevada. Mormons from Utah were the first settlers (1855), attracted by the artesian springs in the arid valley along the Old Spanish Trail, hence the name Las Vegas ("the meadows"). The Mormons abandoned the site in 1857, and the U.S. Army built Fort Baker there in 1864. With the coming of the San Pedro, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake Railroad in 1905, Las Vegas became a railroad town.
Las Vegas growth was stimulated by legalized gambling (1931) and by construction in the 1930s of t
he Hoover Dam (29 miles [47 km] east) and Lake
Mead, which, with the nearby Mount Charleston Recreation Area and the Death Valley National Park, have become popular tourist attractions.
Las Vegas is famous as a unique year-round desert resort. The city's commercial core is "The Strip," an array of luxury hotels, casinos, and nightclubs featuring gambling and exotic entertainment. The buildings along The Strip, which stretches along part of Las Vegas Boulevard South, are notable for their bright neon signage, colourful electronic billboards, and extravagant facades and interiors.
Las Vegas first began to grow rapidly after 1940. The city's connections to the national crime syndicate began in 1946, when gangster Benjamin ("Bugsy") Siegel opened the Flamingo Hotel with financing by his associate Meyer Lansky and others. Gambling had been legalized in Nevada in 1931, and from the late
1940s Las Vegas began to earn a reputation as a popular tourist destination and to attract notoriety as a "sin city."
Las Vegas city's growth surged in the mid-1950s as more casinos were built and again in the mid-1960s when the industrialist Howard Hughes bought many local businesses and properties. Another economic boom began in the mid-1980s with a new spate of extravagant hotel-casino complexes, this time emphasizing family entertainment. As a result, Las Vegas was one of the fastest-growing American metropolitan areas in the second half of the 20th century.
Las Vegas is also the hub of a commercial and mining area. Nellis Air Force Base and Small Arms Range are adjacent to North Las Vegas. Nellis Air Force Range and Nuclear Testing Site (established during World War II) and Indian Springs Gunnery Range lie 60 miles (100 km) northwest.
Today, there is nothing in all of the world quite like Las Vegas, the unchalleneged "Gaming Capital of the World." Las Vegas is home to 11 of the top 13 hotels in the world and has more hotel rooms than any other city in America.
In 1994, a new record was set with over 28 million visitors. In addition, more than 19 billion was spent in Las Vegas/Clark County by tourist and conventioneers.
From all indications, there is no end in sight to the current building boom. Within the next two years, four major casino properties will open for business. They are the Monte Carlo - 3,000 rooms; Stratosphere Tower - 2,500 rooms and a 1,142 Stratospher e Tower; New York, New York - 2,159 rooms; and Bellagio, a 3,000 room casino resort touted as being the most luxorious hotel ever built in the world.
The Las Vegas area, however, is more than just casinos and huge hotels. Beyond the resorts lie a myraid of adventures and sights to partake in. To the Southeast are gigantic Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, an aquatic playland in the middle of the desert. To the North lies spectacular alphine scenery among the aspen draped slopes of Mt. Charleston and for those who want, and outstanding ski area. To the Northwest, is magnificent Red Rock Canyon and the Spring Mountains, with their brilliantly convered mountains of sandstone.
Las Vegas' success has been the result of unique and successful integration of the needs of government, business, and the community to create one of the most remarkable cities in the world, a city which will continue to be among the Leaders worldwide in innovative gaming experiment aimed at preserving gaming's worldwide appeal while simultaneously maintaining a rich, satisfying and diverse adult and family-oriented life-style.