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Las Vegas Strip
A view of the Southern end of the Strip. Looking Northward from Tropicana Ave.
The Las Vegas Strip is an approximately stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South in Clark County, Nevada. A small portion of the Strip lies in Las Vegas, but most of it is in the unincorporated areas of Paradise and Winchester. Most of "the Strip" has been designated an All-American Road.
Many of the largest hotel, casino and resort properties in the world are located on the world famous Las Vegas Strip. Nineteen of the world's twenty-five largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 67,000 rooms. One of the 19, the Las Vegas Hilton, is an "off-Strip" property but is located less than east of the Strip.
Several decades ago, Las Vegas Boulevard South was called Arrowhead Highway, or ''Los Angeles Highway''. The Strip was reportedly named by Los Angeles police officer Guy McAfee, after his hometown's Sunset Strip.
One of the most visible aspects of Las Vegas' cityscape is its use of dramatic architecture. The modernization of hotels, casinos, restaurants, and residential high-rises on the Strip has established the city as one of the most popular destinations for tourists.
Historically, the casinos that were not in downtown Las Vegas along Fremont street were restricted to outside of the city limits on Las Vegas Blvd. In 1959 the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was constructed exactly outside of the city limits. The sign is today about south of the southernmost entrance to Mandalay Bay (the southernmost casino).
In the strictest sense, "the Strip" refers only to Las Vegas Boulevard, roughly between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road, a distance of . However, the term is often used to refer not only to the road but also to the various casinos and resorts that line the road, and even to properties which are not on the road but in proximity. Certain government agencies, such as the Nevada Gaming Commission, classify properties as "Las Vegas Strip" for reporting purposes, although these definitions can include properties which are or more away from Las Vegas Boulevard (such as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino). Phrases such as ''Strip Area'', ''Resort Corridor'' or ''Resort District'' are sometimes used to indicate a larger geographical area.
The Stratosphere, situated north of Sahara, is informally regarded as the northern boundary of the Strip. At one time, the southern end of the Strip was Tropicana Avenue, but continuing construction has extended this boundary to Russell Road. Mandalay Bay is located just north of Russell Road.
Because of the number and size of the resorts, the Resort Corridor can be quite wide. Interstate 15 runs roughly parallel and to the west of Las Vegas Boulevard for the entire length of the Strip. Paradise Road runs to the east in a similar fashion, and ends at Saint Louis Avenue. The eastern side of the Strip is bounded by McCarran International Airport south of Tropicana Avenue. North of this point, the Resort Corridor can be considered to extend as far east as Paradise Road, although some consider Koval Lane as a less inclusive boundary. Interstate 15 is sometimes considered the western edge of the Resort Corridor from Interstate 215 to Spring Mountain Road. North of this point, Industrial Road serves as the western edge.
The Nevada Gaming Commission defines ''the strip'' gaming area as encompassing all resorts located on Las Vegas Boulevard South between Russell Road and Sahara Avenue, as well as several nearby properties not directly located on Las Vegas Boulevard. This includes The Rio, The Palms, and several other smaller resorts west of Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 15, but does not include The Orleans one block further west. Properties located east of Las Vegas Boulevard on Paradise Road, such as the Las Vegas Hilton, Terrible's Casino, and the Hard Rock, are also included in this area. The Stratosphere, however, is not included in the Nevada Gaming Commission definition of the Strip since it lies north of Sahara Avenue on Las Vegas Boulevard.
The famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is located in the median just south of Russell Road, across from the now-defunct Klondike Hotel & Casino; another similar sign is in the median at the north end of the Strip near the intersection of east St. Louis and south Main Streets.
Newer resorts such as South Point casino, and the M resort are on Las Vegas Blvd as distant as 8 miles south of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Marketing for these casinos usually states that they are on southern Las Vegas Blvd.
The first casino to be built on Highway 91 was the ''Pair-o-Dice Club'' in 1931, but the first on what is currently the Strip was the El Rancho Vegas, opening on April 3, 1941, with 63 rooms. That casino stood for almost twenty years before being destroyed by a fire in 1960. Its success spawned a second hotel on what would become the Strip, the Hotel Last Frontier, in 1942. Organized crime figures such as New York's Bugsy Siegel took interest in the growing gaming center leading to other resorts such as the Flamingo, which opened in 1946, and the Desert Inn, which opened in 1950. The funding for many projects was provided through the American National Insurance Company, which was based in the then notorious gambling empire of Galveston, Texas.
In 1968, Kirk Kerkorian purchased the Flamingo and hired Sahara Hotels Vice President Alex Shoofey as President. Alex Shoofey brought along 33 of Sahara's top executives. The Flamingo was used to train future employees of the International Hotel, which was under construction. Opening in 1969, the International Hotel, with 1,512 rooms, began the era of mega-resorts. The International is known as the Las Vegas Hilton today.
The first MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, also a Kerkorian property, opened in 1973 with 2,084 rooms. At the time, this was one of the largest hotels in the world by number of rooms (Rossiya Hotel in Moscow, for one, was larger). On November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand suffered the worst resort fire in the history of Las Vegas, killing 87 people as a result of electrical problems. It reopened eight months later. In 1986, Kerkorian sold the MGM Grand to Bally Manufacturing, and it was renamed Bally's.
The Wet 'n Wild water park opened in 1985 and was located on the south side of the Sahara hotel. The park closed at the end of the 2004 season and was later demolished.
The opening of The Mirage in 1989 set a new level to the Las Vegas experience, as smaller hotels and casinos made way for the larger mega-resorts. These huge facilities offer entertainment and dining options, as well as gambling and lodging. This change impacted the smaller, well-known and now historic hotels and casinos, like The Dunes, The Sands and the Stardust.
In 1995, following the death of Dean Martin, the lights along the strip were dimmed in a sign of respect to him. They did the same thing in 1998 in honor of the recently deceased Frank Sinatra. In 2005, Clark County renamed a section of Industrial Road (south of Twain Avenue) as Dean Martin Drive, also as a tribute to the famous Rat Pack singer, actor, and frequent Las Vegas entertainer.
In an effort to attract families, resorts offered more attractions geared toward youth, but had limited success. The (current) MGM Grand opened in 1993 with Grand Adventures amusement park, but the park closed in 2000 due to lack of interest. Similarly, in 2003 Treasure Island closed its own video arcade and abandoned the previous pirate theme, adopting the new ''ti'' name.
Downtown Las Vegas hotels and casinos suffered heavily from the Strip's boom. They have funneled money into remodeling the facades of casinos, adding additional security and new attractions, like the Fremont Street Experience and Neonopolis (complete with movie theaters (now closed, as of May 2009)).
In addition to the large hotels, casinos and resorts, the Strip is home to a few smaller casinos, motels and other attractions, such as M&M World, Adventuredome and the Fashion Show Mall. Starting in the mid-1990s, the Strip became a popular New Year's Eve celebration destination.
In 2004, MGM Mirage announced plans for ''Project CityCenter'', a 66 acre (600,000 m²), $7 billion multi-use project on the site of the Boardwalk hotel and adjoining land. It will consist of hotel, casino, condo, retail and other uses on the site. When completed, City Center will be the largest such complex in the world. Construction began in April 2006, and the first elements of this project are expected to be available in 2009.
In 2006, the Las Vegas Strip lost its longtime status as the world's highest-grossing gambling center, falling to second place behind Macau.
The Strip today
While not on the Strip itself, the Las Vegas Monorail runs on the east side of the Strip from Tropicana Avenue to Sahara Road.
RTC Transit (formerly CAT or Citizens Area Transit 1992-2008) provides service on the strip with double decker buses known as The Deuce. The Deuce runs between the South Strip Transfer Terminal (SSTT) near the southern end of the Strip to the Downtown Transportation Center (DTC) near the Fremont Street Experience. Stops occur near every Casino.
A tourist trolley service travels up and down the Strip and stops at various, but not all, Strip hotels, along with a stop at the Fashion Show Mall. The fare is $3 for a one way ride, regardless how far you travel down the strip. Alternatively, a 24-hour pass is $7, and exact change is required. Trolleys are scheduled to arrive every 15 minutes.
Two small, free cable-pulled trams operate on the Strip. One runs between Treasure Island and The Mirage, while the other provides service to Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur.
Taxis can only stop at hotel entrances or designated spots, so when planning to get somewhere ask which is the closest hotel.
Before CAT Bus came on in 1992, mass transit on the Strip was provided by a private transit company, Las Vegas Transit. The Strip route was their only profitable route and supported the whole bus system.
Some of the shuttles have a policy requiring a room key from an affiliated casino. Enforcement of these policies may vary.
* Between Harrah's and the Rio. Approximately every 30 minutes.
* Between Sam's Town and Bill's Gamblin' Hall, Harrah's, Riviera, and Tropicana. Approximately every hour and a half.
* Between Caesars Palace and the Rio. Approximately every 30 minutes.
* Between Paris/Bally's and the Rio. Approximately every 30 minutes.
* Between Hard Rock and the Fashion Show Mall. Leaves the Hard Rock every 60 minutes on the hour.
* Between South Point and Mandalay Bay. Approximately every 30 minutes. (No longer a service.)
* Between Treasure Island and The Mirage. Elevated tram runs approximately every 10 minutes.
Several Strip hotels have undertaken efforts to make the street more pedestrian-friendly. New casinos design their façades to attract walk-up customers, and many of these entrances have become attractions themselves - the Fountains at Bellagio, the volcano at The Mirage, and the Sirens of TI pirate show at Treasure Island. Spectators gather on the sidewalks in front of the casinos to watch these shows.
To alleviate traffic issues at popular intersections, several footbridges have been installed to help pedestrians safely traverse the roads. The Tropicana - Las Vegas Boulevard footbridges were the first to be installed, and based on the success of this project additional footbridges have been built on Las Vegas Boulevard at the Flamingo Road intersection; between The Mirage/Treasure Island and The Venetian; at the Las Vegas Boulevard-Spring Mountain and Sands Avenue intersection connecting the Wynn with the Fashion Show Mall and The Palazzo; and the latest one being constructed to connect Planet Hollywood with CityCenter.
In recent years, all but one of the on-Strip golf courses (the Desert Inn Golf Course) have fallen prey to the mega-resorts' need for land and have closed. Developer Steve Wynn, founder of previously owned Mirage Resorts, purchased the Desert Inn and golf course for his new company Wynn Resorts. In 2005, he opened Wynn Las Vegas, complete with remodeled golf course providing tee times to hotel guests only.
In 2000, Bali Hai Golf Club opened just south of Mandalay Bay and the Strip.
Major hotel locations
For a full list of hotels on the Strip, see list of Las Vegas Strip hotels.
Most of the attractions and shows on the Strip are located on the hotel casino properties. Some of the more popular free attractions visible from the Strip include the water fountains at Bellagio, the Sirens of TI show at Treasure Island - TI, the volcano at The Mirage, and the Fall of Atlantis and Festival Fountain at Caesars Palace. MGM Grand features a glass-sided lion habitat inside the casino area, in which up to six lions are shown every day.
The only movie theater directly on the Strip is the 10-screen Showcase Theater in the Showcase mall, (opened in 1997 and operated by Regal Entertainment Group).
Demolished or closed Strip casinos & hotels
* Big Red's Casino: Closed in 1982. Property developed for CBS Sports World Casino (Changed name to Sports World Casino after the CBS threatened to sue): Closed in 2001, now a shopping center.
* Boardwalk Hotel and Casino: Demolished May 9, 2006 to make way for CityCenter.
* Bourbon Street Hotel and Casino: Demolished February 6, 2006, now an empty lot.
* Desert Inn (and golf course): Inn demolished in 2004, now Wynn Las Vegas; golf course retained and improved.
* The Dunes (and golf course): Demolished in 1993, now Bellagio.
* El Rancho (formerly Thunderbird/Silverbird): Closed in 1992 and demolished in 2000, will be the site of the 4000-room casino-hotel Fontainebleau which is currently under construction.
* El Rancho Vegas: Burned down in 1960. The Hilton Grand Vacation Club timeshare now exists on the south edge of the site where the resort once stood; the remainder remains vacant.
* Glass Pool Inn: Demolished in 2006. It was called ''Mirage Motel'' until 1988 and changed names due to The Mirage opening down the Strip in 1989.
* Hacienda: Demolished in 1996, now Mandalay Bay. A separate Hacienda now exists outside of Boulder City, formerly the Gold Strike Inn.
* Holy Cow Casino Cafe and Brewery First micro brewery in Las Vegas. Closed in 2002, property currently vacant.
* Jackpot Casino: Closed in 1977, now the Sahara.
* Klondike Hotel & Casino: Closed in 2006, demolished in 2008.
* The Landmark: Demolished in 1995. Now the site of a parking lot for the Las Vegas Convention Center (Demolition was filmed for the feature ''Mars Attacks!'').
* Lucky Slots Casino: Closed in 1981, now a shopping center.
* Lotus Inn Hotel & Casino: Closed in 1978, now a Rodeway Inn.
* Money Tree Casino: Closed in 1979.
* Marina Hotel and Casino: Westward pointing tower (known as the West Wing) of the MGM Grand.
* The New Frontier: Closed July 16, 2007, demolished November 13, 2007. Was to have been replaced by the new Las Vegas Plaza, but that project was put on hold.
* Nob Hill Casino: Closed in 1990, now Casino Royale.
* Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino: Closed in 1991 and reopened in 1993 as Debbie Reynolds' Hollywood Hotel & Casino, which itself closed in 1996 and is now the Greek Isles Hotel & Casino.
* San Souci: Closed in 1962 for the Castaways, which itself was demolished in 1987. Now the site of The Mirage.
* The Sands: Demolished in 1996, now The Venetian.
* Silver City Hotel & Casino: Closed in 1999, now the Silver City Shopping Center.
* Silver Slipper: Demolished in 1988 for a parking lot. Now the site of the Desert Inn Road Arterial.
* Stardust Resort & Casino: Closed November 1, 2006, demolished March 13, 2007. Was to have been replaced by Echelon Place, but that project was put on hold in August 2008.
* Tally Ho Hotel: Closed in 1966. Became the Aladdin, which in 2007 became Planet Hollywood.
* Vacation Village Resort & Casino; Closed in 2002, demolished in 2006. Site of the new Town Square development.
* Vegas World: Demolished in 1995 and rebuilt as the Stratosphere; parts of the old Vegas World still remain.
* Westward Ho Hotel and Casino: Closed in 2005, demolished in 2006. Now the site of a new McDonald's, which is currently being built, starting in 2008. It is a 2 story replacement of the McDonald's right next door to the former property.
McCarran International Airport provides commercial flights into the Las Vegas valley. The airport also serves private aircraft, domestic and international passenger flights, and freight/cargo flights. General aviation traffic generally uses North Las Vegas Airport, other airfields are available.
City Ride Bus Service is provided by the ''Transportation Services Division''. This limited service offers two routes in the downtown area with fare running from free to $0.50 depending on age and disabilities. CAT Bus is a popular means of public transportation among locals and tourists with various bus routes covering Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas and other suburban areas of the valley.
The Las Vegas Monorail runs from the MGM Grand Hotel at the south end of the Strip to the Sahara Hotel and Casino at the north end of the Strip.
The street numbering system is divided by the following streets:
* Westcliff Drive, US 95 Expressway, Fremont Street and Charleston Boulevard divide the north-south block numbers from west to east.
* Las Vegas Boulevard divides the east-west streets from the Las Vegas Strip to near the Stratosphere, then Main Street becomes the dividing line from the Stratosphere to the North Las Vegas border, after which the Goldfield Street alignment officially divides east and west.
* On the east side of Las Vegas, block numbers between Charleston Boulevard and Washington Avenue are different along Nellis Boulevard, which is the eastern border of the city limits.
* All city street signs begin with a ''N'', ''S'', ''W'', or ''E'' designation.
Until 1997, the Amtrak Desert Wind train service ran through Las Vegas using the Union Pacific Railroad (UP) rails that run through the city; Amtrak service to Las Vegas has since been replaced by Amtrak's Thruway Motorcoach bus service. Plans to restore Los Angeles to Las Vegas Amtrak service using a Talgo train have been discussed but no plan for a replacement has been implemented. The Las Vegas Amtrak station was located in the Plaza Hotel. It had the distinction of being the only train station located in a casino.
Two major freeways - Interstate 15 and Interstate 515/U.S. Route 95 - cross in downtown Las Vegas. I-15 connects Las Vegas to Los Angeles and San Diego, California, and heads northeast to and beyond Salt Lake City, Utah. I-515 goes southeast to Henderson, beyond which US 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 Blue Diamond Road (SR 160) to Pahrump and Lake Mead Boulevard (SR 147) to Lake Mead.
With the notable exceptions of Las Vegas Boulevard, Boulder Highway (SR 582), and Rancho Drive (SR 599), 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.