Las Vegas is one of the most famous and popular tourist destinations in the world. Known for its casinos, hotels, nightlife, and attractions, Las Vegas attracts millions of visitors every year. But how much do you really know about this city? In this article, we will explore some interesting and surprising facts about Las Vegas that will make you appreciate it even more.
The Origin of Las Vegas
The name “Las Vegas” means “the meadows” in Spanish, because of the water found in underground artesian wells1. The first structure built by non-native settlers was a fort constructed by Mormon missionaries in 18552. The fort still stands today as a museum and historical site.
The city of Las Vegas was officially founded in 1905, when the railroad arrived and connected it to other parts of the country. The first hotel and casino in Las Vegas was the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, which opened in 1906 as Hotel Nevada. The first telephone in Las Vegas was installed in 1907 at the Hotel Nevada, and a plaque still commemorates it in today’s Golden Gate Hotel and Casino.
The Gambling Capital of the World?
Las Vegas is often called the gambling capital of the world, but it is not the only place where you can enjoy this activity. In fact, Las Vegas is no longer the gambling capital of the world, as Macau surpassed it in terms of revenue in 2006. Macau is a special administrative region of China, where gambling is legal and regulated.
However, Las Vegas still has plenty of casinos to offer, and some of the largest and most luxurious ones in the world. There are over 100 casinos in Las Vegas, and more than half of the 20 largest hotels in the world are located there. Some of the most famous ones include The Venetian, The Bellagio, The MGM Grand, and The Wynn.
The Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is the main attraction of the city, where most of the casinos, hotels, and entertainment venues are located. The Strip is about 4.2 miles long, and is lined with neon lights, fountains, and replicas of famous landmarks from around the world.
However, the Las Vegas Strip is not actually in Las Vegas. It is located in the unincorporated area of Paradise, Nevada, which falls under the jurisdiction of Clark County. The reason for this is that the city of Las Vegas wanted to avoid the high taxes and regulations imposed by the county, so it annexed only the downtown area and left the rest to the county.
The Brightest Spot on Earth
Las Vegas is known for its dazzling lights, especially at night. The city is so bright that it can be seen from space, and is considered the brightest spot on Earth. The amount of electricity used by Las Vegas is staggering, and most of it comes from the Hoover Dam, which is located about 30 miles away from the city.
One of the most impressive displays of lights in Las Vegas is the Bellagio Fountain show, which features more than 1,200 fountains that shoot water up to 460 feet in the air, synchronized with music and lights. The show runs every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the time of day, and is free to watch.
Another remarkable sight is the High Roller, which is the tallest observation wheel in the world, standing at 550 feet and measuring 520 feet in diameter. The High Roller has 28 cabins that can accommodate up to 40 people each, and offers a 360-degree view of the city. The ride takes about 30 minutes, and costs $25 to $52 per person, depending on the time of day.
The City of Weddings
Las Vegas is also known for its weddings, as it is one of the easiest and cheapest places to get married in the US. There are over 300 wedding chapels in Las Vegas, and nearly 300 weddings are held every day. Some of the most popular wedding venues include the Little White Wedding Chapel, where celebrities like Britney Spears, Frank Sinatra, and Bruce Willis have tied the knot, and the Graceland Wedding Chapel, where Elvis impersonators can officiate your ceremony.
Las Vegas also offers some unconventional wedding options, such as getting married by a pirate, a zombie, or a Star Wars character, or getting married in a helicopter, a limousine, or a drive-through. You can even get married at the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, which is located at the south end of the Strip.
The City of Surprises
Las Vegas is full of surprises, and some of them may shock you. For example, did you know that:
- There is an abandoned city below Lake Mead, which was once a thriving town called St. Thomas, but was flooded when the Hoover Dam was built in 1938. The town is now a ghost town, and can be seen when the water level is low.
- The Luxor Hotel’s Sphinx is bigger than the original one in Egypt, by 101 feet. The Luxor Hotel is also shaped like a pyramid, and has a beam of light that shoots from its top, which is the brightest beam in the world, and can be seen from 250 miles away.
- The Paris Hotel’s Eiffel Tower was supposed to be a full-scale replica of the original one in France, but it had to be reduced to half the size due to the proximity of the airport. The tower still stands at 541 feet, and has an observation deck and a restaurant at the top.
- The MGM Grand’s lion is the largest bronze sculpture in the US, weighing 50 tons and measuring 45 feet tall. The lion is also the mascot of the hotel and casino, which is the largest single hotel in the US, with over 6,800 rooms.
Las Vegas is a city that never sleeps, and never ceases to amaze. Whether you are looking for gambling, entertainment, romance, or adventure, Las Vegas has something for everyone. Las Vegas is a city that you have to see to believe, and once you do, you will never forget it.