Las Vegas, Nev.
Las Vegas, seat of Clark County in southeast Nevada, is the largest city in the state and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Between April 1990 and April 2000, the Las Vegas metropolitan area population increased by 83%, growing from 852,737 to 1,563,282.
The area was discovered by Spanish explorers in 1829. The site of Las Vegas (“The Meadows” in Spanish) was originally a watering place for travelers on their way to southern California. It was first settled by Mormons in 1855, who were attracted by its artesian springs. They abandoned their settlement two years later in 1857, and the U.S. Army established Fort Baker there in 1864. In 1867, Las Vegas was detached from the Arizona Territory and joined with Nevada.
The town was established and started to grow with the arrival of the railroad in 1905. However, its growth did not really take off until shortly after 1931, when the Nevada legislature legalized gambling in an effort to lift the state from the Great Depression. The construction of nearby Hoover Dam aided the area economically as well.
The Las Vegas that we know today basically began after World War II, when the idea of large hotels along the brand new “strip” was developed. Las Vegas is the “marriage capital” of America; there are 50 wedding chapels in the city. Tourism and the convention industry are the city's major sources of income. In addition, manufacturing, government, warehousing, and trucking are major sources of employment. Many high-technology companies are also located in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has a favorable business climate: taxes are relatively low, and there are neither city nor state income taxes. This is because gambling and sales taxes, paid by tourists, have allowed the city and state governments to avoid personal and corporate income taxes.
Popular nearby tourist attractions are Hoover Dam and Lake Mead (the largest man-made lake in the U.S.), Lake Mojave, the Mt. Charleston Recreation Area, Red Rock Canyon, and the Death Valley National Monument.
See also Encyclopedia: Las Vegas.
Selected famous natives and residents: