Las Vegas is the largest city in the state of Nevada with a landmass of over one hundred and thirty-one square miles and a population of almost two million people in the greater metropolitan area. This city, as viewed from space, is the brightest city on the face of the planet. The first visitors to the Las Vegas area were a scouting party of Spanish descent in the mid nineteenth century who were looking for a trade route to Los Angeles. When they passed through the area they named it Las Vegas, which means “Meadow” in Spanish, and refers to the green pastures that surrounded the area. These pastures were made possible by an extensive collection of artesian wells. The entire area, which had previously belonged to Mexico, was annexed by the United States in 1848 as part of the Mexican Cession.

The area was very sparsely populated until the Nevada Land Act of 1885 offered ordinary people the opportunity to buy land in the area at very reasonable prices. This caused a huge influx of farmers into the cities who used the artesian wells to grow their crops. Las Vegas continued as a farming town until the early twentieth century when several significant developments caused a rapid expansion of the city. The first development was the construction of a public water system that pumped water from the artesian wells into the city. This influx of fresh, clean water allowed the city to sustain a larger population. Another development was the construction of several railroad lines that linked the city to the Southern California area. The last major development was the discovery of gold in the nearby towns of Rhyolite and Bullfrog. All these factors combined to provide a steady flow of money into the economy of Las Vegas and the city was finally incorporated in 1905.

The economic boom lasted until 1917 when several unfortunate events started the reversal of the cities fortune. First, the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad went bankrupt and sold in pieces to other railroads. Then the Union Pacific Railroad was shut down as the railroads engaged in a national strike during the 1920’s. These two events forced the city into a state of decline that lasted until 1931 when construction of the Hoover Dam began. This massive federally mandated building project swelled the city with thousands of workers. Before long, the first casinos and show girl theaters were built to entertain these workers. This pumped new money into the economy and the city once again began to expand.

Today, Las Vegas is recognized the world over as a resort city famous for its gambling casinos, shopping venues, fine dining and elegant hotels. These are also the elements, along with a thriving convention trade, that fuels this cities vibrant economy. Another element of this economy that is expanding quite rapidly is its housing market. This is in part due to the constant influx of tourist coming into the city each and every year.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city is the Las Vegas Strip. This is an almost four mile long stretch of road that is home to many of the casinos, hotels and resort properties in the city. Because of its unique architecture and brightly lit buildings it is one of the most recognizable locations in the entire country. Located at the entrance to this strip is the “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas Sign”. Casinos located either on the strip or near it include the Golden Nugget, Four Queens, Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel, Fremont Casino,Plaza Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas Club, Fitzgeralds Las Vegas, Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, California Hotel and Casino, Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Eiffel Tower Experience at the Paris Las Vegas Casino Hotel, and the Mirage Casino. And this is just a short list. Las Vegas is a city that has some form of casino in just about every location in the city.

Built in a classic Italian style and located right on the Las Vegas Strip is the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. This beautiful building stands over thirty six stories high and is well known for its incredible fountain display, The Bellagio Fountain. It consist of one thousand fountains set on a large man made lake that are made to dance to classical music. Located inside the Bellagio is a shopping mall and an indoor garden area. The hotel also has a large Mediterranean pool garden that consist of four hot tubs and five heated pools spread over an area of nine acres.

Another popular location to visit is the Fremont East District. This is a busy and bustling district that is filled with blues bars, comedy clubs, jazz nightclubs and musical venues of every size and shape. This lively district is adjacent to the Freemont Street Experience in the heart of downtown Las Vegas.
Fremont Street Experience is a huge tourist attraction and pedestrian mall that spans five city blocks. Every night this area hosts a free show that features over twelve million lights and over half a million watts of sound. This area also has free concerts and special events several times a year. Also located here is the Neon Museum. Here you can find some of the signs that were on the old hotels of Las Vegas.

The city of Las Vegas has so many attractions available to visitors its almost impossible to list them in one location. Some of the more popular ones include the Arts Factory Las Vegas, Atomic Testing Museum, CSN Planetarium & Observatory, Gameworks Las Vegas, Madame Tussaud’s, Sirens Of Treasure Island, The Aquarium at Silverton Hotel and Casino Las Vegas and the Streetmosphere at the Grand Canal Shoppe. And that’s only a short list. This is a city that is open twenty-four hours a day and has so much to reveal, even to visitors that have made several trips to the city in the past. Its brightly lit streets, bustling shopping centers and stimulating attractions will keep every member of the family busy nearly their entire visit.