LAS VEGAS TOUR
Travel less than a mile from the Strip and
you will find the real Las Vegas, the suburbs that attract over 50,000 new
residents a year. Think about the enormity of that number! Try to imagine a
city of 50,000 with all its industry, schools, places of worship and other
support services. Now, relocate that whole city to Las Vegas... every year! If
you are looking for a vibrant city in which to launch a new business, start a
new career or simply a pleasant climate in which to retire, the Las Vegas
Valley offers a very attractive choice.
Many newcomers are unaware of life beyond the neon. The
purpose of this site is to familiarize you with the Valley (Las Vegas,
Henderson, North LV and Clark County). In addition we will take some field
trips to nearby locations, such as Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam.
In 1844 the John Fremont expedition (with Kit Carson as one of
the guides) camped at the Las Vegas Springs.
Although a young Spanish scout named Rafael Rivera
apparently had previously discovered a grassy area with plentiful water which
he named Las Vegas (Spanish for "The Meadows"), the Fremont expedition is the
first documented instance of Europeans in the Las Vegas Valley. A few years
later, Mormons established a route from the Great Salt Lake Valley to the
California coast which came to be known as the "Mormon Road". This trail,
passing through the Vegas valley, saw increased traffic during the California
gold rush. In 1855 Mormon missionaries established the first settlement in Las
Vegas and constructed an adobe fort near the present day downtown which served
as a way station. Some attempts at lead and silver mining at nearby Mt. Potosi
were disappointing and the fort was abandoned in 1857.
In 1865 Octavius Decatur Gass rebuilt the Las Vegas Mission,
remodeling the old fort into a ranch house and naming it Las Vegas Rancho. The
ranch passed hands to the Stewart family in 1884 and finally in 1902 to William
Clark, who was constructing his San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad.
Las Vegas then became a busy construction camp.
An event on May 15, 1905 officially established the city of
Las Vegas. The 110 acres of land situated between Main St. to the west and Las
Vegas Blvd. (5th Street) to the east and from Stewart Ave. to the north, and
Garces Ave. to the south were auctioned. The sale of these 40 square blocks
took place at the site of the current Plaza Hotel (at the west end of Fremont
St.). The city became the county seat of Clark County in 1909 and was
incorporated in 1911.
During the 25 years from 1905 to 1930 Las Vegas remained
largely a railroad town and the population grew from 800 to 5,000. Most of the
population resided within the original townsite but a few farms were
established in the outlying areas.
In the early 30's three events lead to an expansion of the Las
Vegas population; the beginning of construction of Hoover Dam, legalization of
gambling in Nevada and liberalization of divorce laws in the state. These
events created an influx of; 1) construction workers for the dam, 2) gamblers
and 3) soon to be divorced "dude ranchers" who could obtain a quickie divorce
after a six week residency. New home construction developed east of 5th Street
and Las Vegans saw the completion of their first high school and hospital.
By the beginning of World War II the population had grown to
8,400 and two more events stimulated another population expansion. The
establishment of the Las Vegas Army Gunnery School (now Nellis Air Force Base)
in the northeast of the valley and the construction of the Basic Magnesium Inc.
plant in the southeast (now Henderson) both led to a surge in population.
In 1941 the El Rancho Vegas Hotel opened on the "Strip" (Las
Vegas Blvd. south of the city) and one year later the Hotel Last Frontier
opened its doors. Contrary to popular belief, "Bugsy" Siegel's Flamingo Hotel
which opened in 1946 was not the first on the "Strip", it was however the most
lavish and led to a string of mob owned copy-cat operations.
By 1960 Vegas boasted a population of 65,000. In 1966 Howard
Hughes arrived at the Desert Inn and began purchasing hotels. This started a
trend of corporation ownership which has continued to the present day. Hughes
incidentally also purchased a large tract of land on the west side of the
valley which was to become Summerlin (his mother's maiden name).
One can see from the population figures (125,787 in 1970 and
164,674 in 1980) that growth continued, in spite of the introduction of
gambling to Atlantic City. These were the days that gambling became "gaming"
and an air of respectability blew over the valley.
In 1989 Steve Wynn opened the first mega-resort hotel on the
strip, the Mirage. Steve continued an unprecedented expansion including
Treasure Island, the Golden Nugget, and Bellagio hotels. Recently these have
been sold to the MGM and Steve has moved on to Purchase the Desert Inn.
Everyone is waiting to see what wonders he will perform with that property.
By 1990 the population of Las Vegas had reached 258,295 and
the growth showed no sign of slowing. To the contrary, population passed the 1
million mark before the end of the century and is expected to reach 2 million
by the year 2005!
The Las Vegas Valley is surrounded by 4 mountain ranges; The
Sheep Range to the north, Sunrise Mountain to the east, Black Mountain in the
south and the Spring Mountains to the west. Currently new home construction is
into the foothills of all but the Sheep Range. And that is just a matter of
Water is always a concern in the desert. The Las Vegas Valley
Water District is responsible for supplying a safe water supply to residents of
the valley. Water originates in Lake Mead as well as underground aquifers.
Water is the pumped by 45 pumping stations to 25 reservoirs with a capacity of
over 660 million gallons. Some of the older reservoirs are quite visible while
the newer systems, such as the one located at Durango and Spring Mountain are
all but invisible to the passerby.
Water conservation is of course encouraged. While there is a
tendency to want to create a lush lawn, just like the one you had back in
Lushville, desert landscaping and xeriscape will not only reduce your water
bill but will make you feel better about yourself. They say that overwatering a
lush lawn can waste up to 70% of your household water through evaporation.
Incidentally, the waste water collected by the Water District
is treated and pumped back into the ground to replace the extracted water.
Another source of water is rainfall. While a light shower is
nice, a downpour will result in flash floods. We recently went through a period
of 145 days without any rain which came close to the previous record set in the
1950's. But long dry periods are common in the valley. As a result the ground
tends to bake to a hard surface so that when it does rain, the water tends to
run to the lowest points. There is no comprehensive storm sewer system in town
to carry this water away so water runs down surface streets to the lower levels
or "flood zones". You must always check before purchasing a home to be assured
that it is not located in a flood zone. FEMA maps are available at the Clark
County offices for such a search. Our annual rainfall is less than 5 inches but
when it rains flash floods are a major concern. Regional Flood Control
continues to construct water retaining basins throughout the valley as a means
of controlling water from the major sources.
WEATHER (Yeah, but it's a dry heat)
Many folks move to Las Vegas for the weather. We
are located in the "high desert" which means that we generally have warm
weather relative to the rest of the country. We average 295 days of sunshine
per year with an average humidity of 29%. This low humidity is very attractive
to arthritic sufferers. Daytime temperatures are in the mid 50's during
December and January and rise to over 100 in July and August. During the winter
months snow falls on nearby Mt. Charleston and skiing at Lee Canyon is a
favorite pastime. Under the right circumstances you could water-ski at Lake
Mead later the same day.
Seasonal High & Low
YOU'VE HEARD THE PROS, NOW...
Rapid expansion is bound to create some problems. We are
currently constructing about 12 new schools per year. On the plus side, if you
purchase a home in a newer area, your children will attend a brand new school.
On the other hand they may have to be bused to the school until a closer one is
built. School zoning is in a constant state of flux.
With all the earth moving involved in new construction, dust
control is a challenge. I guess I should be politically correct and call it
"air-born particulant matter", or maybe not. You could wait a few years for the
dust to settle but chances are you will end up paying considerably more for the
home, as available land becomes more scarce. By the way, unless you really
enjoy dusting furniture constantly, leave any black or ebony heirlooms
Traffic flow remains a problem. Fortunately many new residents
are retirees and don't have to travel during peak hours. Likewise, many more
people work from their home offices these days and this has helped relieve
demand on the road system. Finally, the city and county fathers haven't buried
their heads in the sand. Major roadworks are underway in all parts of the
valley. A beltway from Henderson running west past the airport and up the west
side and then across the north is scheduled to be completed very soon. While
all this road construction currently exacerbates the traffic problems, everyone
can see an end in sight.
Unless you come from Tokyo, or New York or maybe Chicago be
prepared to pay a little more for auto insurance. I don't know why but rates
here are on the high side. I can only suggest that if you're over 50 years of
age join AARP and sign up for the senior's rates. If you are under 50, just
grin and bear it.
Beside location, elevation ((view map) should be a
consideration when selecting a homesite. In addition to the improved panoramic
views that come with increased elevation, temperature, air quality and flash
floods also come into play. (Click here to view a flood hazard map of the valley) Many folks use the Stratosphere Tower as a
reference point since it can be seen from just about anywhere in the valley.
The tower is located on Las Vegas Blvd. just north of Sahara and the base is
approximately 2050 feet above sea level. The total height of the tower is 1149
feet. This means that the top of the tower is, hmm 2050 + 1149 = 3199 feet
above sea level. A few locations in Las Vegas are higher than the top of the
tower (ie. west side of Summerlin) but most are not. From your vantage point
you will either be parallel to some point on the tower or you will be looking
up at it from a lower elevation.
There is typically a five to ten degree
difference in temperature between Summerlin and the lower portions of
Henderson. While elevation is not the only element in the equation, it
certainly is a factor.