Las Vegas Strip

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Las Vegas Strip
The Strip
Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas Boulevard at night
Bellagio Caesars Palace
Welcome to Las Vegas sign Aria Las Vegas
New York, New York MGM Grand
Clockwise from top: Las Vegas Boulevard facing southward at night, Caesars Palace, Aria Resort and Casino, MGM Grand Las Vegas, New York-New York Hotel and Casino, Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, Bellagio with Paris Las Vegas in foreground.
Length 4.2 mi (6.8 km)
South end Russell Road
North end Sahara Avenue

The Las Vegas Strip is a stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South in Clark County, Nevada, internationally known for its concentration of resort hotels and casinos along its route. The Strip is approximately 4.2 miles (6.8 km) in length,[1] located immediately south of the Las Vegas city limits in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester. However, the Strip is often referred to as being "in Las Vegas". Most of the Strip has been designated an All-American Road,[2][3] and is considered a scenic route at night.[4] Many of the largest hotel, casino, and resort properties in the world are located on the Las Vegas Strip. Fifteen of the world's 25 largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 62,000 rooms.

One of the most visible aspects of Las Vegas' cityscape is its use of dramatic architecture and lights. The rapidly evolving skyline and constant modernization of hotels, casinos, restaurants, residential high-rises, and entertainment offerings on the Strip, have established it as one of the most popular destinations for tourists in the United States, and the world.[5]

Boundaries

Historically, the casinos that were not in Downtown Las Vegas along Fremont Street were limited to outside of the city limits on Las Vegas Boulevard. In 1959 the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was constructed exactly 4.5 miles (7.2 km) outside of the city limits. The sign is today about 0.4 miles (0.64 km) south of the southernmost entrance to Mandalay Bay (the southernmost casino).

In the strictest sense, "the Strip" refers only to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that is roughly between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road, a distance of 4.2 miles (6.8 km).[6][7] 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. Phrases such as Strip Area, Resort Corridor or Resort District are sometimes used to indicate a larger geographical area, including properties 1 mile (1.6 km) or more away from Las Vegas Boulevard, such as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino, Palms Casino Resort and Hooters Casino Hotel.

Aerial view looking North September 2013
Aerial view looking South at night.

The traditional definition considers the Strip's northern terminus as the SLS, though travel guides typically extend it to include the Stratosphere, 0.4 miles (0.64 km) to the north. 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 and is the southernmost resort considered to be on the Strip (the Klondike was the southernmost until 2006, when it was closed, although it was not included in Las Vegas Strip on some definitions and travel guides).

Because of the number and size of the resorts, the Resort Corridor can be quite wide. Interstate 15 runs roughly parallel and 0.5 to 0.8 miles (0.80 to 1.29 km) 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 St. 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 famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign is located in the median just south of Russell Road, across from the now-demolished 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 and the M Resort are on Las Vegas Boulevard South 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 Boulevard and not "Strip" properties.

2007 panorama of the southern half of the Las Vegas Strip by night with Project CityCenter construction on the bottom right

History

Early years (1930s-1990s)

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 20 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.[8][9]

The Strip in the 1940s. Pictured is the gas station of the Hotel Last Frontier, the second hotel on the Strip.

Las Vegas Boulevard South was previously called Arrowhead Highway, or Los Angeles Highway. The Strip was named by Los Angeles police officer Guy McAfee, after his hometown's Sunset Strip.[10]

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 Westgate Las Vegas today.

File:The Desert Inn.jpg
The Desert Inn on the Strip in the 1960s

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. The Rossiya Hotel built in 1967 in Moscow, for instance, had 3,200 rooms; however, most of the rooms in the Rossiya Hotel were single rooms of 118 sq. ft (roughly 1/4 size of a standard room at the MGM Grand Resort). On November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand suffered the worst resort fire in the history of Las Vegas as a result of electrical problems, killing 87 people. 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. The Rio and the Exaclibur opened in 1990. These huge facilities offer entertainment and dining options, as well as gambling and lodging. This change affected the smaller, well-known and now historic hotels and casinos, like The Dunes, The Sands, the Stardust, and the Sahara.

The lights along the Strip have been dimmed in a sign of respect to five performers and one other major Las Vegas figure upon their deaths. They are Elvis Presley (1977), Sammy Davis Jr. (1990),[11] Dean Martin (1995), George Burns (1996), Frank Sinatra (1998), and former UNLV basketball head coach Jerry Tarkanian (2015).[12] 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 MGM Grand Adventures Theme 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.[13]

In addition to the large hotels, casinos and resorts, the Strip is home to a few smaller casinos 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.

Recent years (2000-present)

Four-segment panorama of the Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, and Caesars Palace (left to right) from the Las Vegas Strip, across from the Bellagio fountains.

With the opening of Bellagio, Venetian, Palazzo, Wynn and Encore resorts, the strip trended towards the luxurious high end segment through most of the 2000s, while some older resorts added major expansions and renovations, including some de-theming of the earlier themed hotels. High end dining, specialty retail, spas and nightclubs increasingly became options for visitors in addition to gambling at most Strip resorts. There was also a trend towards expensive residential condo units on the strip.

In 2004, MGM Mirage announced plans for CityCenter, a 66-acre (27 ha), $7 billion multi-use project on the site of the Boardwalk hotel and adjoining land. It consists of hotel, casino, condo, retail, art, business and other uses on the site. City Center is currently the largest such complex in the world. Construction began in April 2006, with most elements of the project opened in late 2009. Also in 2006, the Las Vegas Strip lost its longtime status as the world's highest-grossing gambling center, falling to second place behind Macau.[14]

In 2012, the High Roller (Ferris wheel) and a retail district called The LINQ broke ground, in an attempt to diversify attractions beyond that of casino resorts. Renovations and rebrandings such as The Cromwell Las Vegas and the SLS Las Vegas continued to transform The Strip in 2014. The Las Vegas Festival Grounds opened in 2015. The T-Mobile Arena and The Park[15] opened in 2016. A 5,000-seat theater at the Monte Carlo is currently being built and due to open at the end of 2016.[16] Smaller changes and developments are taking place as well.[17]

Pending

In May 2015, the Riviera closed and is expected to be demolished by two implosions in June and August 2016[18] to make way for the Las Vegas Global Business District Project.[19] Since November 2015, the unfinished Fontainebleau[20] as well as the unfinished Skyvue ferris wheel[21] are for sale. Genting Group bought the site of the Stardust and Westward Ho in 2013 with plans to build and open Resorts World Las Vegas in early 2019.[22] Crown Resorts has purchased the site of the New Frontier and Silver Slipper in August 2014 with plans for a new resort named Alon Las Vegas. Construction details are to be revealed in May or June 2016.[23] The All Net Resort and Arena was planned to open in 2017, but is delayed until 2018 or 2019.[24] The Wynn Paradise Park has been announced for 2020.[25] Plans to build an NFL stadium near The Strip were made public the end of March 2016.[26] Raiders owner Mark Davis is willing to give $500M, but there are still hurdles to clear.[27]

Transportation

The Las Vegas Monorail pulling into the Sahara Station in Paradise.

RTC Transit (previously Citizens Area Transit, or CAT) provides bus service on the Strip with double decker buses known as The Deuce. The Deuce runs between Mandalay Bay at the southern end of the Strip (and to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign and South Strip Transfer Terminal after midnight) to the Bonneville Transit Center (BTC) and the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas, with stops near every casino. RTC also operates an express bus called the Strip and Downtown Express (SDX). This route connects the Strip to the Las Vegas Convention Center and Downtown Las Vegas to the north, with stops at selected hotels and shopping attractions (Las Vegas Premium Outlets North & South).

While not on the Strip itself, the Las Vegas Monorail runs on the east side of the Strip corridor from Tropicana Avenue to Sahara Avenue.[28]

Several free trams operate on the west side of the Strip:

Taxis can only stop at hotel entrances or designated spots, so when planning to get somewhere, passengers inquire as to which hotel or taxi stand is closest to the intended destination.[29]

Prior to CAT bus service beginning operations 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.[citation needed]

Free shuttles

Several hotel properties on the Strip provide free shuttles between other properties and attractions. Some of the shuttles have a policy requiring a room key from an affiliated casino—enforcement of these policies may vary.[30][31]

Pedestrian traffic

The Strip traffic during the day, looking north from the MGM Grand. The strip has a number of pedestrian footbridges.

Pedestrians can walk the length of the Las Vegas Strip with wide sidewalks in many places. Sidewalks can get crowded in the evenings and early mornings, especially on weekend nights. Crowds also gather near the outdoor shows at The Mirage and Bellagio.[32]

To improve pedestrian safety and help alleviate traffic congestion at popular intersections, several pedestrian footbridges were erected. Some feature designs which match the theme of the nearby resorts. 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 connecting Bellagio, Caesar's Palace, Bally's, and The Cromwell; between The Mirage/Treasure Island and The Venetian, and at the Las Vegas Boulevard-Spring Mountain and Sands Avenue intersection connecting the Wynn with the Fashion Show Mall, The Palazzo and Treasure Island. The latest to be completed connects Planet Hollywood, CityCenter and The Cosmopolitan at the Harmon Avenue intersection.[33]

Attractions on the Strip

Golf

In 2000, Bali Hai Golf Club opened just south of Mandalay Bay and the Strip.[34]

In recent years, all but the Desert Inn Golf Course have been removed to make way for building projects. Even though many golf courses along the strip were being torn down, 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.

Amusement Parks and Rides

The strip is home to many amusement parks and rides. These include:

Shopping

The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace

Entertainment

The Bellagio Fountains are shown at dusk.

Most of the attractions and shows on the Strip are located on the hotel casino properties. The Las Vegas strip, is well known for its lounges, showrooms, theaters and nightclubs. Some of the more popular free attractions visible from the Strip include the water fountains at Bellagio, the volcano at The Mirage, and the Fall of Atlantis and Festival Fountain at Caesars Palace. There are several Cirque du Soleil shows, such as at the MGM Grand, O at Bellagio, Mystère at Treasure Island, Zumanity (for ages 18 and older) at New York-New York, Criss Angel Believe at the Luxor, Zarkana at the Aria Resort and Casino, and Michael Jackson: One at Mandalay Bay.[37]

Many notable artists have performed in Las Vegas, including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Wayne Newton Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Liberace,[38] and in more recent years Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Barry Manilow, Cher, Elton John, Bette Midler, Donny and Marie Osmond, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Mariah Carey and Olivia Newton-John have had residencies in the various resorts on the Strip. The only movie theatre[when?] directly on the Strip is the 10-screen Regal Showcase Theatre in the Showcase Mall next to the MGM Grand (opened in 1997 and operated by Regal Entertainment Group).[39]

Venues

The strip is home to many entertainment venues, many of them multipurpose. These include:

Locations of major landmarks

Current landmarks

File:Las Vegas strip panorama 1.jpg
A panorama view of the Las Vegas Strip from the south east; February 2012
North towards Fremont Street

Stratosphere
Lucky Dragon (construction), Allure, Bonanza Gift Shop
Sahara Avenue Sahara Avenue
Festival Grounds SLS
Hilton Grand Vacations All Net Resort and Arena (construction)
Sky Fontainebleau (on hold), Turnberry
Circus Circus Riviera (closed)
Slots-A-Fun
Resorts World (construction)
Desert Inn Road Desert Inn Road
Trump, Alon (construction) Encore
Fashion Show Mall Wynn
Spring Mountain Road Sands Avenue
Treasure Island Palazzo, Sands Expo
Venetian
Mirage Casino Royale
Harrah's
Linq, High Roller
Flamingo
Caesars Palace Cromwell, Westin
Flamingo Road Flamingo Road
Bellagio Bally's
Paris
Vdara, Cosmopolitan Planet Hollywood
Harmon Avenue Harmon Avenue
Crystals Grand Chateau, Signature
Aria, Veer
Mandarin Oriental
Monte Carlo Showcase Mall
The Park
T-Mobile Arena, New York-New York MGM Grand
Tropicana Avenue Tropicana Avenue
Excalibur Tropicana, Hooters
Luxor
Mandalay Bay Road Mandalay Bay Road
Delano Skyvue (unfinished)
Mandalay Bay
Russell Road

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign

South towards Interstate 215 I-215.svg

Former hotel/casino locations

North towards Fremont Street

Vegas World
Honest John's Casino/Jolly Trolley Casino Foxy's Firehouse/Holy Cow
Sahara Avenue Sahara Avenue
El Rancho Vegas Sahara
Wet 'n Wild
Thunderbird/Silverbird/El Rancho
Riviera
Westward Ho Silver City Casino, Royal Inn, Landmark
Royal Nevada/Stardust Big Red's Casino/CBS Sports World Casino
Desert Inn Road Desert Inn Road
Silver Slipper
New Frontier Desert Inn
Spring Mountain Road Sands Avenue
Sands
Sans Souci Hotel/Castaways Nob Hill Casino
Holiday Casino, Holiday Inn
Flamingo Capri/Imperial Palace/The Quad
O'Sheas Casino
Barbary Coast/Bill's Gamblin' Hall and Saloon, Maxim
Flamingo Road Flamingo Road
Dunes Bonanza/MGM Grand
Little Caesars Casino
Tally Ho/King's Crown/Aladdin
Holiday Inn, Slot Joynt/Boardwalk Harmon Avenue
Marina, Tropicana Country Club
Tropicana Avenue Tropicana Avenue
San Remo
Hacienda Avenue Hacienda Avenue
Hacienda
Russell Road
Kona Kai Motel/Klondike

South towards Interstate 215 I-215.svg

Demolished or closed Strip casinos and hotels

Gallery

See also

References

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Further reading

External links

Route map: Bing / Google