Las Vegas metropolitan area
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The Las Vegas metropolitan area, also known as the Las Vegas-Paradise-Henderson Metropolitan Statistical Area, is a metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada, consisting of Clark County. A central part of the metropolitan area is the Las Vegas Valley, a 600 sq mi (1,600 km2) basin in which is located the metropolitan area's largest city, Las Vegas. The area contains the largest concentration of people in the state. The history of the Las Vegas metropolitan area largely coincides with the history of the city of Las Vegas, whose name is sometimes used to denominate the entire region. The metropolitan area's population was estimated at 1,836,333 in 2007.
Outdoor lighting displays are everywhere on the many tourist destination buildings in the area. As seen from space, Las Vegas is the brightest city on earth.
The area was previously settled by Mormon farmers in 1854 and later became the site of a United States Army fort in 1864, beginning a long relationship between southern Nevada and the U.S. military. Since the 1930s, Las Vegas has generally been identified as a gaming center as well as a resort destination, primarily targeting adults. Relatively inexpensive real estate prompted a residential population boom in the Las Vegas Valley in the 1990s and is still expanding in every direction.
Nellis Air Force Base is located in the northeast corner of the valley. The ranges that the Nellis pilots use and various other land areas used by various federal agencies, limit growth of the valley in terms of geographic area. Due to this reason, the valley has seen more mid- and high-rise buildings erected.
Aside from the federal government's definition of the metropolitan area's boundaries, several unofficial definitions are employed by local governments and area residents. Most definitions agree on the inclusion of the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson, the Las Vegas Strip, Summerlin, and the unincorporated communities of Winchester, Paradise, Enterprise, Spring Valley, Sunrise Manor, and Whitney.
The government of Clark County defines an "Urban Planning Area" of Las Vegas. This definition is a roughly rectangular area, about 20 mi (32 km) from west to east and 30 miles from north to south. It is generally as described above. Notable exclusions include Boulder City, Red Rock, Blue Diamond and Mount Charleston. With its ban on gambling, Boulder City is sometimes noted as being outside the metropolitan area. From the federal government's definition, however, it is part of the Las Vegas metropolitan area as it lies in the same county and just 22 miles away from Las Vegas. The rapid growth of Las Vegas in recent years has also made this distinction harder to maintain.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department exercises jurisdiction in Clark County, including areas as far away from Las Vegas as Laughlin, about 90 mi (140 km) from downtown Las Vegas, but excluding cities with separate police forces such as North Las Vegas and Henderson.
The United States Census Bureau defines the Las Vegas-Paradise-Pahrump combined statistical area, which includes all of Clark County as well as the community of Pahrump in southern Nye County, about 75 mi (121 km) from downtown Las Vegas.
Residents often use the term "the valley" as a synonym for "metropolitan area", but this is a misnomer, as the valley is in fact a basin. The basin is an area generally defined by the Spring Mountains on the west, Sheep Mountains to the north, Muddy Mountains, Eldorado Range and Lake Mead to the east, and the Black Mountains to the south.
Geography and environment
The Las Vegas Valley lies in a relatively high-altitude portion of the Mojave Desert, which tends to produce drastic changes of temperature between seasons, and also between day and night. The Valley generally averages less than 5 in (130 mm) of rain annually. Daily daytime summer temperatures in July and August are typically around 101 °F (38 °C) degrees. Very low humidity, however, tempers the effect of these temperatures, though dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sun stroke can occur after even a limited time outdoors in the summer. The interiors of automobiles often prove deadly to small children and pets during the summer and surfaces exposed to the sun can cause first- and second-degree burns to unprotected skin. July and August can also be marked by "monsoon season", when moist winds from the Gulf of California soak much of the Southwestern United States. While not only raising humidity levels, these winds develop into dramatic desert thunderstorms that can sometimes cause flash flooding.
Winter season is moderate in Las Vegas and temperatures are mild, with winter daytime highs near 60 °F (16 °C) and winter nighttime lows of about 40 °F (4 °C). Snow accumulation in the valley itself is generally uncommon, but every few years apart, the Las Vegas Valley can get snow. The mountains surrounding the valley are snow-covered during winter.
Being located in a desert basin creates issues with air quality. From the dust the wind picks up from disturbed desert surrounding the city, to the smog produced by vehicles to the pollen in the air, the valley has mostly bad air days.
The dust problems usually happen on very windy days, so they tend to be seasonal and of a short duration.
Smog on the other hand gets worst when there is no wind to move the air out of the valley. Also in winter it is possible to get an inversion in the valley air that actually traps any smog in the valley.
The county is working to control these problems and has shown some success over the years. The constant tightening of Federal requirements for allowable particles in the air, make the task of meeting air quality standards difficult.
The native flora does little to help the soil retain water. During the intense rains of monsoon season or (relatively) wet months of January and February, a network of dry natural channels, called washes or arroyos, carved into the valley floor allows water to flow down from the mountains and converge in the Las Vegas Wash which runs through the Clark County Wetlands Park. The wash system used to form a large natural wetlands which then flowed into the Colorado River, until the construction of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River led to the creation of Lake Mead. Further development in the 1980s and 1990s made Lake Las Vegas, which required directing the Las Vegas Wash into tunnels which run under Lake Las Vegas and into Lake Mead.
The Las Vegas area receives about 300,000 acre feet (370,000,000 m³) of water each year from Lake Mead, with credits for water it returns to the lake. The allocations were made when Nevada had a much smaller population and very little agriculture. The allocations were also made during a wet string of years, which overstated the available water in the entire watershed. As a result, precipitation that is below normal for a few years can have a major impact on the Colorado River Reservoirs.
Early Vegas depended on the aquifer which fed the springs, but the pumping of water from these caused a large drop in the water levels and ground subsidence over wide areas of the valley. Today, the aquifers are basically used to store water that is pumped from the lake during periods of low demand and pumped out during periods of high demand.
The population doubling time in the greater metropolitan area was under ten years, since the early 1970s and the Las Vegas metropolitan area now has a population approaching two million people. This rapid population growth led to a significant urbanization of desert lands into industrial and commercial areas. (see suburbia).
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As of the census of 2000, there were 1,375,765 people, 512,253 households, and 339,693 families residing within the MSA. The racial makeup of the MSA was 71.58 White (60.23% White Non-Hispanic), 9.08% Black, 5.74% Asian, 0.79% American Indian and 12.81% of other or mixed race. 21.96% were Hispanic of any race.
In 1999, the median income for a household in the MSA was $44,616 and the median income for a family was $50,485. The per capita income was $21,785.
The driving force in the Las Vegas Valley is the tourism industry and the valley has about 140,000 hotel rooms. In the past, casinos and celebrity shows were the two major attractions for the area. Now shopping, conventions, fine dining, and outdoor beauty are also major forces in attracting tourist dollars.
While Las Vegas has historically attracted high-stake gamblers from around the world, it is now facing tougher competition from the UK, Hong Kong and Macau (China), Eastern Europe and developing areas in the Middle East. The financial and operating risks associated with pursuing the high-roller market will persist, but some U.S. casinos may opt out of chasing high-end players altogether as the costs to attract these players increase significantly and the relative incentive declines.
Las Vegas has been trying to expand its manufacturing and research bases. There have been some positive signs from the World Market Center being developed in the city and the opening of Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in 2007, in addition to many smaller businesses.
While the cost of housing spiked up over 40% in 2004, the lack of business and income taxes still makes Nevada an attractive place for many companies to relocate to as well as expand into. Being a true twenty-four hour city, call centers have always seemed to find Vegas a good place to find workers willing to work at all hours.
In line with other fast growing metros, the construction industry usually accounts for a larger share of the economy in Las Vegas than in slower growing areas. New strip casinos take years to build and employ thousands of workers. The same could be said of the housing boom with new home sales around 15,000 units in 2004. With the introduction of Turnburry Towers several years ago, developers discovered that there was a large demand for high-end condominiums. At the end of 2004, it was estimated that as many as eighty major condominiums were in various stages of development. However by 2008, the construction industry was in a downturn due to the credit crunch.
Slab-on-grade foundations is the common base for residential buildings in the area.
Traditionally, housing consisted primarily of single-family detached homes. Apartment complexes generally were two story buildings. There have been exceptions, but they were few and far between. In the 1990s, Turnberry Associates constructed the first high rise condominium. Prior to this, there were only a handful of mid-rise multi family housing.
By the mid 2000s, there was a major move into high rise condominiums, which had a noticeable impact on the skyline, especially in the area around The Strip.
U.S. housing market collapse
Las Vegas has been one of the top areas in the nation adversely affected by the recent subprime mortgage crisis and United States housing market correction, resulting in a freefall in home prices and mass foreclosures. As of January 2008, 1.9% of homes in the Las Vegas area were in the foreclosure process, almost triple the rate of a year earlier. The problems, as it was mostly nationwide, was rampant speculation from house flippers, who sought quick profits and never intended to live in the homes they purchased. Also, resetting of many mortgage rates increased foreclosures. As of April 2008, 51% of the more than 22,000 homes for sale in the area were vacant, according to Las Vegas real estate research firm SalesTraq.
Some technology companies have either relocated to Vegas or were created there. For various reasons, the Las Vegas area has had a high concentration of technology companies in electronic gaming and telecommunications industries.
Companies that originally were formed in 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.
Las Vegas has expanded its attractiveness to visitors by offering both high-end and affordable merchandise in many shops and shopping malls. Many hotels on the Las Vegas Strip also have adjacent shopping malls, giving the Las Vegas metro area the highest concentration of shopping malls in any four mile stretch of road. In addition to the malls on the Strip, there are several outlying malls in Las Vegas, Henderson, and the surrounding area. The monorail on the east side of the Strip facilitates shopping trips from the north to the south.
Major malls include:
Culture and the Arts
On the first Friday of each month, the "First Friday" celebration is held, which exhibits the works of local artists and musicians in a section of the city's Downtown region, now called the "Arts District".
The Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park, also known as the Las Vegas Zoo, exhibits over 150 species of animals and plants.
The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is the only aquarium that is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in the state of Nevada. It features 1,200 species and over 2,000 animals in 1.6 million gallons of seawater.
The $485 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts (currently under construction) will be located downtown in Union Park. The center will be appropriate for Broadway shows and other major touring attractions as well as orchestra, opera, and dance performances.
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is a facility presenting high-quality art exhibitions from major national and international museums. Past exhibits have included the works of Andy Warhol, Alexander Calder, and Peter Carl Fabergé. A self-guided audio tour is also offered.
The Guggenheim Hermitage Museum is the result of a partnership between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York City, and the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The 7,660 sq ft (712 m2) museum has exhibited the works of such artists as Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Titian, and Warhol.
The Las Vegas Art Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, has featured past exhibits by Chagall, Rodin, and contemporary glass artist, Dale Chihuly. The museum's small but growing collection includes works by Calder, Robert Indiana, and Edward Ruscha.
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum features robot dinosaurs, live fish, and more than 26 species of preserved animals. There are several "hands-on" areas where animals can be petted.
- Atomic Testing Museum
- Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum
- Burlesque Hall of Fame
- Clark County Heritage Museum
- Erotic Heritage Museum
- Guinness World of Records
- Star Trek: The Experience
- Hollywood Movie Museum
- Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum
- Imperial Palace Auto Collection
- Las Vegas Art Museum
- Las Vegas Gambling Museum
- Las Vegas Natural History Museum
- Liberace Museum
- Lied Discovery Children's Museum
- Lost City Museum
- Madame Tussauds
- Marjorie Barrick Museum
- Neon Museum
- Nevada State Museum
- Nevada State Railroad Museum
- Pinball Hall of Fame
- Shelby Museum
- Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art
Neighborhoods of Las Vegas
- Alta Drive/Scotch 80's/Rancho Circle/Rancho Bel Air
- Centennial Hills
- Desert Shores
- Green Valley
- Lake Las Vegas
- Los Prados
- Mountains Edge
- Painted Desert
- Paradise Palms
- Paradise Vista
- Rancho Sierra Estates
- Seven Hills
- Silverado Ranch
- Southern Highlands
- The Lakes
- West Las Vegas
Las Vegas is served by 22 television and 46 radio stations. The valley is also served by two NOAA Weather Radio transmitters (162.55 MHz from Boulder City and 162.40 MHz from Mount Potosi).
- Radio stations in Las Vegas
- Television stations in Las Vegas
- Boulder City News is a weekly newspaper, serving Boulder City
- Gamingwire an online news service about gaming and related topics
- Henderson Home News is a weekly newspaper, serving the Henderson, owned by Greenspun Media Group, publishers of the Sun.
- Las Vegas Advisor
- Las Vegas Business Press
- Las Vegas CityLife weekly paper
- Las Vegas Review-Journal
- Las Vegas Sun
- Las Vegas Weekly is an alternative weekly paper owned by Greenspun Media Group, publishers of the Sun.
- Summerlin News and its sister West Valley News serving Summerlin and Spring Valley, owned by Greenspun Media Group, publishers of the Sun.
- Valley Times is a defunct newspaper that was discontinued around 1985. It covered the North Las Vegas area in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Las Vegas Style
- S Las Vegas
Rail and bus
Two major freeways - Interstate 15 and U.S. Route 95 - cross in downtown Las Vegas. I-15 connects Las Vegas to Los Angeles and San Diego, and heads northeast to and beyond Salt Lake City. Interstate 515 goes southeast to Henderson, beyond which U.S. Route 93 continues over the Hoover Dam towards Phoenix, Arizona. US 95 connects the city to northwestern Nevada, including Carson City and Reno. US 93 splits from I-15 northeast of Las Vegas and goes north through the eastern part of the state, serving Ely and Wells, and US 95 heads south from US 93 near Henderson through far eastern California. A three-quarters beltway has been built, consisting of Interstate 215 on the south and Clark County 215 on the west and north. Other radial routes include SR 160 to Pahrump and SR 147 to Lake Mead.
With the notable exceptions of Las Vegas Boulevard, Boulder Highway, and Tonopah Highway (better known as the northern part of Rancho Drive), the majority of surface streets outside downtown Las Vegas are laid out along Public Land Survey System section lines. Many are maintained by the Nevada Department of Transportation as state highways.
- East-west roads, north to south
- Las Vegas Beltway (CC 215)
- Ann Road
- Craig Road (SR 573)
- Cheyenne Avenue (SR 574)
- Carey Avenue
- Lake Mead Boulevard (SR 147)
- Washington Avenue (SR 578)
- Summerlin Parkway
- Bonanza Road (SR 579)
- Charleston Boulevard (SR 159)
- Sahara Avenue (SR 589)
- Desert Inn Road
- Spring Mountain Road (SR 591)
- Flamingo Road (SR 592)
- Tropicana Avenue (SR 593)
- Russell Road (SR 594)
- Sunset Road (SR 562)
- Warm Springs Road
- Blue Diamond Road (SR 160)
- Las Vegas Beltway
- Lake Mead Parkway (formerly Lake Mead Drive) (SR 564)
- Horizon Ridge Parkway
- St. Rose Parkway (formerly Lake Mead Drive) (SR 146)
- North-south roads, west to east
- Las Vegas Beltway (CC 215)
- Durango Drive
- Buffalo Drive
- Rainbow Boulevard (SR 595)
- Jones Boulevard (SR 596)
- Decatur Boulevard
- Valley View Boulevard
- Dean Martin Drive
- Las Vegas Boulevard (SR 604)
- Rancho Drive (SR 599)
- Paradise Road (SR 605)
- Maryland Parkway
- Eastern Avenue (SR 607)
- Pecos Road
- Lamb Boulevard (SR 610)
- Nellis Boulevard (SR 612)
Las Vegas is the home of the following minor league teams:
|Las Vegas 51s||Pacific Coast League||Cashman Field||1983||2|
|Las Vegas Wranglers||ECHL||Orleans Arena||2003||0|
|Las Vegas Locomotives||United Football League||Sam Boyd Stadium||2009||1|
Primary and secondary
- Public schools
- The Clark County School District operates all of the public primary and secondary schools in the county with the exception of a few which are contracted out to a private organization.
- Private schools:
- Alexander Dawson School
- Bishop Gorman High School
- Faith Lutheran Jr/Sr High School
- Calvary Chapel Christian School
- Calvary Church Christian School
- The Milton I. Schwartz Hebrew Academy
- Las Vegas Day School
- The Meadows School
- Merryhill School
- Mountain View Christian School
- Paradise Christian Academy 
- Shiloh Christian School
- St. Viator School
- Trinity Christian School
- New Horizons Academy
- University Baptist Academy
Colleges and universities
- Public Schools
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is the major higher education institution in Las Vegas
- University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) also has a campus for the School of Medicine in Las Vegas
- Nevada State College located in Henderson, Nevada
- College of Southern Nevada - formerly known as the Community College of Southern Nevada and Clark County Community College
- Private schools 4 year+
Venues in Las Vegas
- Music venues in Las Vegas
- Sports venues in Las Vegas
- ^ "Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Components, December 2005, with codes". http://www.census.gov/population/estimates/metro_general/List4.txt. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
- ^ factfinder.census.gov
- ^ unknown. "The Extent of Urbanization in the Southwest As Viewed from Space". http://geochange.er.usgs.gov/sw/changes/anthropogenic/city_lights/. Retrieved 9-7-2008.
- ^ a b c "Las Vegas Climate Book". Las Vegas: National Weather Service Forecast Office. 2009. http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/vef/climate/page1.php. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
- ^ "CensusScope: Clark County Population Growth". http://www.censusscope.org/us/s32/c3/chart_popl.html.
- ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- ^ US Casino Hotels Industry Report" IBISWorld, November 2008
- ^ Buyers' Revenge: Trash the House After Foreclosure - WSJ.com
- ^ Pricy Las Vegas homes quickly lose their luster - Los Angeles Times
- ^ First Friday-Las Vegas
- ^ Most arterial roads are shown, as indicated on the Nevada Department of Transportation's 2004 Roadway Functional Classification map, accessed May 2008.