"Las Vegas (/lɑːs ˈveɪɡəs/, also locally /lɑːs ˈvɛɡᵻs/; Spanish: [laz ˈβeɣas], Spanish for "The Meadows"), officially the City of Las Vegas and often known as simply Vegas, is a city in the United States, the most populous city in the state of Nevada, the county seat of Clark County, and the city proper of the Las Vegas Valley. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city known primarily for gambling, shopping, fine dining, and nightlife and is the leading financial, commercial, and cultural center for Southern Nevada.
The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous for its mega casino–hotels and associated entertainment. A growing retirement and family city, Las Vegas is the 29th-most populous city in the United States, with a population of 603,488 at the 2013 United States Census Estimates. The 2013 population of the Las Vegas metropolitan area was 2,027,828. The city is one of the top three leading destinations in the United States for conventions, business, and meetings. In addition, the city's metropolitan area has more AAA Five Diamond hotels than any other city in the world, and is a global leader in the hospitality industry. Today, Las Vegas is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.
Established in 1905, Las Vegas was incorporated as a city in 1911. At the close of the 20th century, Las Vegas was the most populous American city founded in that century (a similar distinction earned by Chicago in the 19th century). The city's tolerance for numerous forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City, and has made Las Vegas a popular setting for films, television programs, and music videos.
"Las Vegas" is generally used to describe not just the city itself, but areas beyond the city limits—especially the resort areas on and near the Las Vegas Strip—and the Las Vegas Valley. The 4.2 mi (6.8 km) stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard known as the Las Vegas Strip is in the unincorporated communities of Paradise, Winchester, and Enterprise, located in Clark County."
The Strip in late 2009
The major attractions in Las Vegas are the casinos and the hotels, although in recent years other new attractions have begun to emerge.
Most casinos in the downtown area are located on the Fremont Street Experience, The Stratosphere being one of the exceptions. Fremont East, adjacent to the Fremont Street Experience, was granted variances to allow bars to be closer together, similar to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego, the goal being to attract a different demographic than the Strip attracts.
Main article: Downtown (Nevada gaming area)
The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, located downtown along the Fremont Street Experience, is the oldest continuously operating hotel and casino in Las Vegas; it opened in 1906 as the Hotel Nevada.
The year 1931 marked the opening of the Northern Club (now the La Bayou). The most notable of the early casinos may have been Binion's Horseshoe (now Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel) while it was run by Benny Binion.
Boyd Gaming has a major presence downtown operating the California Hotel & Casino, Fremont Hotel & Casino and the Main Street Casino. Other casinos operations include the Four Queens Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas Club (currently undergoing renovation) and Mermaid's Casino, which are also located downtown along the Fremont Street Experience.
Downtown casinos that have undergone major renovations and revitalization in recent years include the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, The D Las Vegas Hotel Casino (formerly Fitzgerald's), Downtown Grand (formerly Lady Luck), El Cortez Hotel & Casino and The Plaza Hotel & Casino.
Las Vegas Strip
Main article: Las Vegas Strip
The center of the gambling and entertainment industry, however, is located on the Las Vegas Strip, outside the city limits in the surrounding unincorporated communities of Paradise and Winchester in Clark County. The largest and most notable casinos and buildings are located there.