Typical desert around the Las Vegas area.
Las Vegas is located at 36°11′39″N, 115°13′19″W (36.194168, 115.222060)GR1. 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. Within the city, however, there are a great deal of lawns, trees, and other greenery. Due to water resource issues, there is now a movement to encourage xeriscaping instead of lawns. Another part of the water conservation efforts include scheduled watering groups for watering residential landscaping.
Las Vegas’ climate is typical of the Mojave Desert, in which it is located, marked with hot summers, mild winters, abundant sunshine year-round, and very little rainfall. Highs in the 90’s are common in the months of May, June, and September and temperatures normally exceed 100 °F for several days in the months of July and August, but there is very low humidity. The hottest temperature ever recorded is 117 °F set twice, on July 19, 2005 at McCarran International Airport and July 24, 1942 at present-day Nellis Air Force Base. Winters are cool and windy, with the majority of Las Vegas’ annual 4.49 in (114 mm) of rainfall coming from January to March. Winter daytime highs are normally around 60 °F and winter nighttime lows are usually around 40 °F. The coldest temperature ever recorded is 8 °F set on January 25, 1937 at present-day Nellis Air Force Base. Showers occur less frequently in the Spring or Autumn. July through September, the Mexican Monsoon often brings enough moisture from the Gulf of California across Mexico and into the southwest to cause afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Although winter snow is usually visible from December to May on the mountains surrounding Las Vegas, it rarely snows in the city itself.
|City of Las Vegas
Population by year 
As of the censusGR2 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.
As of the 2004 census estimate, the Las Vegas metropolitan area contained over 1.6 million residents, and contains the largest Hawaiian community, outside of Hawaii.
Interior of a casino. A major part of the city economy is based on tourism, including gambling.
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. 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.
Las Vegas as the county seat and home to the Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse, draws numerous legal service industries providing bail, marriage, divorce, tax, incorporation and other legal services.
The redevelopment listed below shows how the city is trying to diversify the local economy and revitalize the downtown area. The World Market Center is an example of this.
The south end of the Las Vegas Strip in 2003.
When The Mirage, the first Megaresort, opened in 1989, it started a movement of people and construction away from downtown Las Vegas to the Las Vegas Strip. This resulted in a drop in tourism from which the downtown area is still trying to recover.
A concerted effort has been made by city officials to diversify the Las Vegas economy from tourism by attracting light manufacturing, 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. However, as a New York Times series on the city reported in 2004, the median price of housing in the Las Vegas Valley is now at or above the nationwide median. The urban area has grown outward so quickly that it is beginning to run into the Bureau of Land Management holdings along its edges, increasing land values enough that medium- and high-density development is beginning to occur closer to the core.
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.
Downtown Las Vegas: The Fremont Street Experience outside of Binion’s Horseshoe Casino.
With the Strip expansion in the 1990s, downtown Las Vegas began to suffer. The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) was built in an effort to draw tourists downtown. While greatly slowing the decline, it did not stop the decline in tourism and revenue. The multi-level Neonopolis, complete with food court and theaters, was built to offer more retail and services downtown. While there have been changes in ownership and management, Neonopolis has not been able to lease all the space available. As of March 2005, the property is for sale.
The city purchased 61 ac (247,000 m²) of property from Union Pacific Railroad during the 1990s with the goal of creating something that would draw tourists and locals to the downtown area. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has announced plans for the Union Park Development which will include residential and office high-rises, The Lou Ruvo Alzheimer’s Institute, an academic medical center, The Fred W. and Mary B. Smith Center for the Performing Arts, a new City Hall and a possible baseball stadium. After failed negotiations with The Related Co. on the development of Union Park in October of 2005, San Diego-based Newland Communities was chosen by the city as the new development firm. The Newland contract calls for Dan Van Epp, Newland’s regional vice president and former president of the Howard Hughes Corp., to oversee his company’s work on Union Park. The $50-million Lou Ruvo Alzheimer’s Institute designed by architect Frank Gehry is expected to break ground in August of 2006.
The city council of Las Vegas has agreed on zoning changes on Fremont Street, which allows bars to be closer together duplicating efforts of similar cities, like the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. It is expected that this change will bring more tourism and business to the downtown area.
In the early 2000s, some promising signs emerged for downtown Las Vegas. The city successfully lured the Internal Revenue Service to move operations from outside the city limits to a new building downtown that opened in April 2005. The IRS is expected to create a demand for additional businesses in the area, epecially in the daytime hours.
Another promising sign of development has come in the form of high-rise development. A substantial increase in the number of high-rises under construction and proposed in Las Vegas began in 2003 and has continued into 2006. New Condominum and hotel high rise projects have caused the entire Las Vegas skyline to change dramatically in recent years. Many large projects are planned for downtown Las Vegas as well as the Las Vegas Strip including the largest privately financed development proposed in the United States- Project City Center. It is expected that high rise condominium development will transform the downtown area into a vibrant urban center, and change the demographics of the Las Vegas Strip by adding residential elements to tourist areas.
Las Vegas from space
In 2005, on a lot adjacent to the city’s 61 ac (247,000 m²), the World Market Center opened. It is intended to be the nation’s and possibly the world’s preeminent furniture wholesale showroom and marketplace, and is meant to compete with the current furniture market capital of High Point, North Carolina.
In 2004, the city partnered with Cheetah Wireless Technologies and MeshNetwork to pilot a wide area mobile broadband system. The pilot system is installed downtown, around the Fremont Street Experience.
The CAT Bus is a popular means of public transportation among locals and tourists with various bus routes covering a large portion of the valley. The CAT system carries approximately 175,000 people per weekday, or about 10% of the Valley’s population. Ridership on the system has been increasing rapidly since the summer of 2005, when a combination of high gas prices and service improvements began attracting more riders. A need for increased frequency and new routes caused by the tremendous growth in the Valley stretches the system’s resources.
The Las Vegas Monorail runs from the MGM Grand Hotel at the south end of the Strip to the Sahara Hotel at the north end of the Strip.
The street numbering system is divided by the following streets:
- Westcliff Drive, US-95 Expressway, Fremont Street and Charleston Boulevard divides the north-south block numbers from west to east.
- Las Vegas Boulevard divides the east-west streets from the Las Vegas Strip to near the Stratosphere, then Main Street becomes the dividing line from the Stratosphere to the North Las Vegas border, after which the Goldfield Street alignment officially divides east and west.
McCarran International Airport provides commercial flights into the Las Vegas valley. The airport also serves private aircraft, domestic and international passenger flights, and freight/cargo flights. Although general aviation traffic flies into McCarran International, other airstrips are available.
Intercity bus service to Las Vegas is provided by traditional intercity bus carriers, including Greyhound; many charter services, including Green Tortoise; and several Chinatown bus lines.
Las Vegas from U.S. Highway 93
Primary roadways into and out of Las Vegas include I-15 (north towards Salt Lake City, Utah, and south towards San Diego and Los Angeles, California, and other points in Southern California), US 93 (north towards Ely, Nevada and Jackpot, Nevada, and south towards Kingman, Arizona) and US 95 (north towards Reno and south towards Searchlight, Nevada), providing access to Interstates I-80 and I-40.
Until 1997, the Amtrak Desert Wind train service ran through Las Vegas using the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) rails that run through the city; Amtrak service to Las Vegas has since been replaced by Amtrak’s Thruway Motorcoach bus service. Plans to restore Los Angeles to Las Vegas Amtrak service using a Talgo train have been discussed since the Desert Wind was discontinued. As of 2005, however, no such service has been established.
Union Pacific Railroad (UP) is the only class one railroad to provide rail freight service to the city.
Culture and attractions
The city and surrounding areas offer many attractions for both visitors and locals to enjoy.
Not having a major league sports team does not mean there is a lack of sports activities in the area. There are also many options for boating, golf, hiking, rock climbing, and parks which offer a wide range of activities.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas fields Division I athletic teams and the NCAA football Las Vegas Bowl call the city home.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), just north of the city hosts NASCAR and other automotive events.
There are multiple sports teams: the Las Vegas Gladiators in the Arena Football League, the Las Vegas 51s, a baseball franchise in the Triple A Pacific Coast League, and the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL hockey league. However, due to illegal gambling risks, none of the major professional sports leagues have ever had a team in Las Vegas, though the possibility of relocating a team to or adding a team in Las Vegas has came up on more than one occasion.
Las Vegas is frequently depicted in film and television.
Las Vegas has four sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI): Angeles City (Pampanga, Philippines), An San (South Korea), Huludao (China), and Phuket (Thailand).
- Official Government Website
- Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
- Las Vegas information
- PBS American Experience 100 years of Las Vegas History
- Las Vegas Casino
- Las Vegas Casino Games
- Las Vegas Ideal Casino
- Las Vegas Net Casino