Las Vegas Strip Living
The Las Vegas Strip is a stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada that is known for its concentration of resort hotels and casinos. The Strip, as it is known, is about 4.2 mi (6.8 km) long, and is immediately south of the Las Vegas city limits in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester, but is often referred to simply as “Las Vegas”.
Many of the largest hotel, casino, and resort properties in the world are on the Strip, known for its contemporary architecture, lights, and wide variety of attractions. Its hotels, casinos, restaurants, residential high-rises, entertainment offerings, and skyline have established the Strip as one of the most popular and iconic tourist destinations in the world and is one of the driving forces for Las Vegas’ economy. Most of the Strip has been designated as an All-American Road and the North and South Las Vegas Strip routes are classifed as Nevada Scenic Byways and National Scenic Byways.
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About the Las Vegas Strip
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). However, the term is often used[by whom?] to refer not only to the road but also to the various casinos and resorts that line the road, and even to properties that are near but not on the road. Phrases such as Strip Area, Resort Corridor or Resort District are sometimes used[by whom?] to indicate a larger geographical area, including properties 1 mile (1.6 km) or more away from Las Vegas Boulevard, such as the Westgate Las Vegas, Hard Rock, Rio, Palms, and Oyo resorts.
The Sahara is widely considered the Strip’s northern terminus, though travel guides typically extend it to the Stratosphere 0.4 miles (0.64 km) to the north. Mandalay Bay, just north of Russell Road, 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 the Strip on some definitions and travel guides). The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is often considered[by whom?] part of the Strip, although it sits 0.4 miles south of the Mandalay Bay and Russell Road.
Because of the number and size of the resorts, the resort corridor can be quite wide.[how?] 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[who?] consider Koval Lane as a less inclusive boundary. Interstate 15 is sometimes considered[by whom?] 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.
Newer hotels and resorts such as South Point, Grandview Resort, and M Resort are on Las Vegas Boulevard South as distant as 8 miles south of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Marketing for these casinos and hotels usually states that they are on southern Las Vegas Boulevard and not “Strip” properties.
Early years (1930s–1990s)
The first casino to be built on Highway 91 was the Pair-o-Dice Club in 1931, but the first casino-resort on what is currently the Strip was the El Rancho Vegas, which opened with 63 rooms on April 3, 1941 (and was 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, and funded 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.
Las Vegas Boulevard South was previously called Arrowhead Highway, or Los Angeles Highway. The Strip was named by Los Angeles police officer and businessman Guy McAfee, after his hometown’s Sunset Strip.
In 1950, mayor Ernie Cragin of the City of Las Vegas sought to annex the Strip, which was unincorporated territory, in order to expand the city’s tax base to fund his ambitious building agenda and pay down the city’s rising debt. Instead, Gus Greenbaum of the Flamingo led a group of casino executives to lobby the Clark County commissioners for town status. Two unincorporated towns were eventually created, Paradise and Winchester. More than two decades later, the Supreme Court of Nevada struck down a 1975 Nevada state law that would have folded the Strip and the rest of the urban areas of Clark County into the City of Las Vegas.
Caesars Palace was established in 1966. 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. 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. It 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 Excalibur 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, and the Stardust.
The lights along the Strip have been dimmed in a sign of respect to six performers and one other major Las Vegas figure upon their deaths. They are Elvis Presley (1977), Sammy Davis Jr. (1990), Dean Martin (1995), George Burns (1996), Frank Sinatra (1998), former UNLV basketball head coach Jerry Tarkanian (2015), and Don Rickles (2017). The Strip lights were dimmed later in 2017 as a memorial to victims of a mass shooting at a concert held adjacent to the Strip. In 2005, Clark County renamed a section of Industrial Road (south of Twain Avenue) Dean Martin Drive 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.
In addition to the large hotels, casinos and resorts, the Strip is home to many attractions, such as M&M’s World, Adventuredome and the Fashion Show Mall. Starting in the mid-1990s, the Strip became a popular New Year’s Eve celebration destination.
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.
In 2012, the High Roller Ferris wheel and a retail district called The LINQ Promenade 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. In 2016, T-Mobile Arena, The Park, and the Park Theater opened.
On October 1, 2017, a mass shooting occurred on the Strip at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, adjacent to the Mandalay Bay hotel. 60 people were killed and 867 were injured. This incident became the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.
In 2018, the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino was renamed the Park MGM and 2019, the SLS retook its Sahara name.
- Genting Group bought the site of the Stardust/Echelon Place with plans to build and open Resorts World Las Vegas in summer 2021.
- Astral Hotels plans to build Astral, a 34-story, 620-room hotel and casino on the southern Las Vegas Strip. Construction is expected to begin in 2020 for a 2022 opening.
- Dream Las Vegas, a casino and boutique hotel, is planned to break ground on the southern Las Vegas Strip by early 2021, with completion by early 2023.
- The opening of 4,000 room The Drew Las Vegas (formerly planned as the Fontainebleau) has been pushed back to the second quarter of 2022.
- As of June 2019, construction of the All Net Resort and Arena is expected to start “as soon as possible” and will take about 3 years.
- The MSG Sphere Las Vegas, including a monorail stop, is being built behind The Palazzo and The Venetian. It was scheduled to open in 2021, but has been rescheduled to sometime in 2023.
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).
Several free trams operate between properties on the west side of the Strip:
- Mandalay Bay Tram connecting the Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur
- Aria Express connecting Park MGM, Crystals (also stop for Aria), and Bellagio)
- Mirage-Treasure Island Tram runs between Treasure Island and The Mirage
While not on the Strip itself, the Las Vegas Monorail runs a 3.9 mile route on the east side of the Strip corridor from Tropicana Avenue to Sahara Avenue, with stops every 4 to 8 minutes at several on-Strip properties including the MGM Grand and the Sahara at each end of the route. The stations include:
- SAHARA Las Vegas Station
- Westgate Station
- Las Vegas Convention Center Station
- Harrah’s/The LINQ Station
- Flamingo/Caesars Palace Station
- Bally’s/Paris Station
- MGM Grand Station
On a daily basis, there are tens of thousands of pedestrians walking along the Strip. Walking is a popular method of transportation, despite long city blocks that stretch a half mile or more and lengthy distances between resort entrances. There are many locations with restricted pedestrian flow due to narrow sidewalks and other infrastructure limitations.
In 2014, 55 percent of visitors reported walking during their trips, based on data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Visitor Profile Study. This figure represented an 11-year high (56 percent walking rate in 2003) and continued a three-year trend of near-50 percent walking rates. As of 2019, the daily number of pedestrians on the Strip is approximately 50,000.
Concerning pedestrian safety and to help alleviate traffic congestion at popular intersections, several pedestrian footbridges were erected in 1990s and the first was the Tropicana – Las Vegas Boulevard footbridge. Some feature designs that match the theme of the nearby resorts. Additional footbridges have been built on Las Vegas Boulevard, including:
- Corner of Las Vegas Blvd (the Strip) and Tropicana Ave.: Four-corner overhead walkway connects the blocks where the MGM Grand, Tropicana, Excalibur and New York-New York are located.
- Corner of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Blvd.: Four-corner overhead walkway connects the blocks where Bally’s, Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Flamingo (next to The Cromwell) are located.
- Corner of Spring Mountain Road and Las Vegas Blvd.: Four-corner overhead walkway connects the corners where Treasure Island, the Fashion Show mall, The Venetian and Wynn are located.
- Planet Hollywood: Direct-connect bridge from the front of Planet Hollywood to CityCenter with access to ARIA, The Cosmopolitan and Crystals shopping center.
- Park MGM (and T-Mobile Arena): Direct pedestrian bridge connecting Park MGM and the Showcase Mall / Hard Rock Cafe.
- Veer Towers: Walkway connecting Veer Towers, Crystals shopping center and Waldorf Astoria.
There has been negative feedback from pedestrians about the elevated crosswalks due to need to walk as much as a quarter-mile to reach an intersection to cross the street and to then walk back some distance on the other side of the street to get to their desired destinations.
After a driver drove into pedestrians on the sidewalk in front of Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood in December 2015, additional bollards were installed on Las Vegas Blvd. In 2019, the bollards on Las Vegas Blvd. were shortened due to feedback from drivers that the bollards were obstructing street views. 283 of the 4,500 bollards will be shortened from 54 inches to 36 inches.
Taxis are available at resorts, shopping centers, attractions, and for scheduled pickups. The Nevada Taxicab Authority provides information about taxi fares and fare zones.
Rideshare services, including Uber and Lyft, are available on the Strip.
In 2019, about eight in ten (81%) visitors said they gambled while in Las Vegas, the highest proportion in the past five years. The average time spent gambling, 2.7 hours, represents a increase over the past three years. Also, the average trip gambling budget, $591.06, was increased from 2018. About nine in ten (89%) visitors who gambled gambled on the Strip Corridor.
During the period spanning 1985 to 2019, there have been significant changes in the table game mix at Strip casinos:
- Blackjack has declined in units and revenue. In 1985, 77% of casino games were blackjack. In 2019, just under 50% were. In 1985, the game accounted for over half of all table game revenues: in 2019, it accounted for 11% of table wins.
- Craps has declined significantly. In 1985, it generated over 28% of all table win. In 2019, it contributed less than 11% to total table wins.
- Roulette has increased both its revenue share and unit share by about 50%.
- Baccarat has increased its win share in the past several years and has surpassed blackjack since 2009.
- Other games, such as mini-baccarat, three card poker, and pai gow poker, have increased revenue share and unit share.
The Las Vegas Strip is well known for its lounges, showrooms, theaters and nightclubs; 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 volcano at The Mirage, and the Fall of Atlantis and Festival Fountain at Caesars Palace. There are several Cirque du Soleil shows, such as Kà at the MGM Grand, O at Bellagio, Mystère at Treasure Island, Zumanity for adults at New York-New York, and Michael Jackson: One at Mandalay Bay.
Many notable artists have performed in Las Vegas, including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Wayne Newton, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Liberace, and in more recent years Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Barry Manilow, Cher, Elton John, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Donny and Marie Osmond, Garth Brooks, Jennifer Lopez, Reba McEntire, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Criss Angel, Olivia Newton-John, Queen + Adam Lambert, and Lady Gaga have had residencies in the various resorts on the Strip. The only movie theatre directly on the Strip was the 10-screen Regal Showcase Theatre in the Showcase Mall. The theater opened in 1997 and was operated by Regal Entertainment Group, until its closure in 2018. During 2019, 51% of visitors attended shows, which was down from 2015, 2017, and 2018. Among visitors who saw shows, relatively more went to Broadway/production shows than in past years, while relatively fewer saw lounge acts, comedy shows, or celebrity DJs.
The Strip is home to many entertainment venues. Most of the resorts have a showroom, nightclub and/or live music venue on the property and a few have large multipurpose arenas. Major venues include:
- All Net Resort and Arena (planned)
- The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
- Las Vegas Festival Grounds
- Mandalay Bay Events Center
- MGM Grand Garden Arena
- MSG Sphere Las Vegas (under construction)
- T-Mobile Arena
- Zappos Theater
- Bonanza Gift Shop is billed as the “World’s Largest Gift Shop”, with over 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of shopping space.
- The Shoppes at the Palazzo featuring luxury stores.
- Fashion Show Mall is adjacent to Treasure Island and opposite Wynn Las Vegas.
- Grand Canal Shoppes is a luxury mall connected to The Venetian with canals, gondolas and singing gondoliers.
- The LINQ Promenade is an open-air retail, dining, and entertainment district located between The Linq and Flamingo resorts that began a soft open in January 2014. It leads from a Strip-side entrance to the High Roller.
- Miracle Mile Shops is part of the Planet Hollywood hotel.
- The Forum Shops at Caesars is a luxury mall connected to Caesars Palace, with more than 160 shops and 11 restaurants.
- Crystals at CityCenter is a luxury high-fashion mall at CityCenter.
- Harmon Corner is a three-story retail center located next to Planet Hollywood with shops and restaurants.
- Showcase Mall is next to MGM Grand, and displays a 100-foot Coca-Cola bottle.
- The Park, a short east–west street between the Park MGM and New York-New York resorts is a park-like boulevard lined with retail shops and restaurants, leading to T-Mobile Arena.
Professional sports are found at venues on the Strip, including:
- National Hockey League: Vegas Golden Knights: at T-Mobile Arena
- Boxing: MGM Grand Garden Arena
- Women’s National Basketball Association: Las Vegas Aces at the Mandalay Bay Events Center
In 2000, Bali Hai Golf Club opened just south of Mandalay Bay and the Strip.
As land values on the Strip have increased over the years, the resort-affiliated golf courses been removed to make way for building projects. The Tropicana Country Club closed in 1990 and the Dunes golf course in the mid-90s. Steve Wynn, founder of previously owned Mirage Resorts, purchased the Desert Inn and golf course for his new company Wynn Resorts and redeveloped the course as the Wynn Golf Club. This course closed in 2017, but the development planned for the course was cancelled and the course will be renovated and re-opened in late 2019. The Aladdin also had a nine-hole golf course in the 1960s.
In 2016, a TopGolf opened near the Strip.
Amusement parks and rides
The Strip is home to the Adventuredome indoor amusement park, and the Stratosphere tower has several rides:
- Big Shot
- SkyJump Las Vegas
Other rides on the Strip include:
- The Roller Coaster (also known as Big Apple Coaster)
- High Roller
- Fly Linq
Although the Strip has elaborate displays, fountains, and large buffet restaurants, many of the hotel resort properties are reowned for their sustainability efforts. Acccording to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the hotels and casinos on the Strip are some of the most efficient water users. Hotel and resort properties account for about 7 percent of water use throughout the Valley and water used indoors on the Strip is reclaimed, recycled, and placed back into Lake Mead. Outdoor water use accounts for the most water loss overall because it is not reclaimed, recycled, and put back into the water system and Lake Mead. Instead, the water is lost through evaporation or ground seepage. Optimal landscaping techniques and minimal landscaping are two major reasons why casinos are able conserve water. Properties have reduced indoor water use by installing low-flow showerheads, retrofitting toilets, educating employees about conservation techniques, and setting overall water-use goals. Approximately 3 to 4 percent of the total water is actually consumed by casinos..
In 2017, most of the major casino companies had a recycling rate of more than 40 percent, compared with the 20 percent recycling rate in Clark County. The Wynn sends its food waste to an agricultural farm rather to than a landfill, composts landscaping and plant waste, avoids the use of plastic straws, and uses compostable, environmentally-friendly to-go containers. MGM partnered with a local food bank, Three Square, which collects and freezes leftover, untouched food, and serves it to the homeless and the hungry. Since 2017, MGM has served more than half a million meals in Las Vegas, using rescued, uneaten food. Most of the Strip properties conduct recycling in-house since it is easier and more efficient to have staff and contractors sort trash and recyclables rather than having guests do it. As a result, there are no recycling stations in public areas of many resorts. Used cooking oil is collected and sold to be converted into biofuel.
Renewable energy is generated and used on the Strip. MGM initiated solar power when it built a solar array on top of the Mandalay Bay in 2014. The solar array at the Mandalay Bay, a 28-acre system capable of powering 1,300 homes, is one of the largest commercial rooftop solar arrays in the United States. The Wynn is also building a new convention center that will feature rooftop solar. Sands has installed solar panels on the employee parking garage at the Venetian.
Energy-efficient buildings are also been implemented and the Strip has one of the highest concentrations of LEED-certified buildings in the world. Some examples of LEED-certified buildings are the Octavius Tower at Caesars Palace and the Linq Promenade, both of which are certified LEED Silver.
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