Las Vegas (often abbreviated as Vegas) is the most populous city in the state of Nevada, United States, the seat of Clark County, and an internationally known resort, shopping, entertainment, and gambling destination. It was established in 1905 and officially became a city in 1911. With the growth that followed, Las Vegas became the largest U.S. city founded in the 20th century (a distinction Chicago held for the 19th century).
The name Las Vegas is often applied to the unincorporated areas of Clark County that surround the city, especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip. This 4½ mi (7.2 km) stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is mostly outside the city limits, in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester.
The center of gambling in the United States and the world, Las Vegas is commonly known as The Entertainment Capital of the World; famous for its massive and lavish casino resorts, availability of alcoholic beverages at any time (as is true throughout Nevada), and various degrees of adult entertainment. It is also referred to as Sin City, but in recent years the city itself has stopped using this moniker in its marketing. The city's glamorous image has often made it a popular setting for films and television programs.
Las Vegas (English: "The Meadows" or "The Grasslands") 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. It is believed the birthplace of Las Vegas to be the Springs Preserve 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 Mormon missionaries led by William Bringhurst to the area to convert the Paiute Indian population. 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 Mormon colony at San Bernardino, California. Las Vegas was established as a railroad town on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres (44.5 ha) owned by Montana Senator William A. Clark's San Pedro, Los Angeles & 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.
Significant events from Las Vegas history include:
The major attractions in Las Vegas are the casinos. The most famous casinos line Las Vegas Boulevard South, also known as the Las Vegas Strip. There are many casinos in the city's downtown area as well, which was the original focal point of the city's gaming industry in its early days. Several large casinos are also located in the county around the city.
Some of the most notable casinos located downtown are on the Fremont Street Experience and include:
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.
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 .
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.
Many technology companies have either relocated to Las Vegas or were created there. For various reasons, Las Vegas 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, NAHETS, Petroglyph, SkywireMedia, Switch Communications, WorldDoc, and Zappos. 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; 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.