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's economy. Most of the Strip has been designated as an All-American Road, and the North and South Las Vegas Strip routes are classified as Nevada Scenic Byways and National Scenic Byways.
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). Clark County uses the phrase Resort Corridor to describe the area including Las Vegas Boulevard between 215 Beltway and Sahara Avenue and surrounding areas.
The Sahara is widely considered the Strip's northern terminus, though travel guides typically extend it to the Strat 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 Strip includes the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.
Las Vegas Strip: day and night
Early years (1930s–1990s)Edit
The first casino to be built on Highway 91 was the Pair-o-Dice Club in 1931, but the first full service casino-resort on what is currently called 'The Strip' was the El Rancho Vegas, which opened with 63 bungalow hotel rooms on April 3, 1941. (The 'El Rancho Vegas' showroom and casino were destroyed by a fire in 1960. The El Rancho Vegas bungalows were not damaged, and were rented out until the early 1980's). Its success spawned a second hotel on what would become the Strip, the Hotel Last Frontier in 1942.Organized crime figures such as Bugsy Siegel, originally from New York, later residing in California, took an intense interest in the growing Las Vegas gaming center, and funded another resort- mob financing for the finishing the Flamingo construction. The Flamingo construction was started by famed Hollywood publisher Billy Wilkerson. The Flamingo casino opened in December 1946, and the hotel opened in March 1947. Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn resort opened in 1950. The funding for many Las Vegas projects was provided through the American National Insurance Company, which was based in the then-notorious gambling empire of Galveston, Texas.
The Strip in the 1940s. Pictured is the gas station of the Hotel Last Frontier, the second hotel on the Strip.
In 1950, Mayor Ernie Cragin of the City of Las Vegas sought to annex the Las Vegas Strip, which was unincorporated Clark County 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 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. Some of the key features of The Mirage included tropical landscapes with waterfalls, an erupting volcano, restaurants with world-class chefs, and a show with illusionists Siegfried & Roy. In the 1990s, more than 12 new hotels opened, including themed hotels like the Luxor, Excalibur, and Mandalay Bay. At $1.7B, the most expensive hotel in the world at the time, The Bellagio, was built in the 1990s. 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. In 1993, the launch of the Mystère show at the new Treasure Island hotel by Cirque du Soleil marked a key point in transforming Las Vegas Strip entertainment.
In an effort to attract families, resorts offered more attractions geared toward youth, but had limited success. 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 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.
Four-segment panorama of The Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, and Caesars Palace (left to right) from the Las Vegas Strip, across from the Bellagio fountains.
Gondolas outside of The Venetian.
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. CityCenter 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.
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. The murderer was a well known Las Vegas high roller named Stephen Paddock. Paddock's motive was never determined, and he committed suicide after the murders were committed. Paddock used several rifles to shoot guests at the Route 91 Festival. These murders became the deadliest mass shootings in modern United States history.
Astral Hotels planned to start building Astral, a 34-story, 620-room hotel and casino on the southern Las Vegas Strip, but the project is delayed.
The All Net Resort & Arena is scheduled to break ground in mid-2022. It will include a 23,000 seat retractable roof arena, two hotels and a theatre.
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:
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
Las Vegas Convention Center Station
Harrah's/The LINQ Station
Flamingo/Caesars Palace Station
MGM Grand Station
The Strip traffic during the day, looking north from the MGM Grand. The strip has a number of pedestrian footbridges.
Elevated pedestrian footbridge at the corner of Spring Mountain Road and Las Vegas Blvd.
On a daily basis, there are tens of thousands of pedestrians walking along the Strip at any one time. 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. The footbridges include:
Veer Towers:. Connects Veer Towers, Waldorf Astoria, and Crystals Shopping Center
Park MGM and T-Mobile Arena Park: Connects MGM and Showcase Mall
Planet Hollywood: Connects Planet Hollywood, CityCenter, Crystals Shopping Center, and The Cosmopolitan.
Spring Mountain Road and Las Vegas Blvd. Corner: Connects Treasure Island, The Wynn, Fashion Show Mall, and The Venetian
Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Blvd. Corner: Connects Bally's, Flamingo, Bellagio, and Caesars Palace
Las Vegas Blvd and Tropicana Ave Corner. Connects the MGM Grand, New York-New York, Excalibur, and Tropicana
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, 800 bollards began to be installed on Las Vegas Blvd. starting in 2017. The construction of the bollards resulted in the removal of 49 of the 82 stars of the Las Vegas Walk of Stars. 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. The shortened bollards line 20 different driveways.
Studies conducted by Clark County in 2012 and 2015 identified issues with congestion. The studies resulted in $5 million of improvements, including LED lights, ADA ramps, containment fencing, widening sidewalks, and removing permanent obstructions, such as signs, signposts, trash cans, and fire hydrants. The studies also identified non-permanent obstructions causing congestion, such as street performers, vendors, handbillers, signholders, and illegal street gambling. Modifications to non-obstruction zones and increased enforcement were implemented in order to reduce congestion.
Taxi on the Las Vegas Strip
Taxis are available at resorts, shopping centers, attractions, and for scheduled pickups. The Nevada Taxicab Authority provides information about taxi fares and fare zones. In 2021, there has been an increase in taxi passengers due to declines in rideshare drivers and rideshare surge pricing.
Rideshare services, including Uber and Lyft, are available on the Strip. In 2021, there have been reports of a lack of rideshare drivers and longer wait times due to job changes, concerns about the pandemic, and the pause in surge pricing due to the state of emergency declared by the State of Nevada.
Attractions on the StripEdit
Casino floor at The Wynn
Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand
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 an 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. UNLV reported that in 2019, Big Las Vegas Strip Casinos (defined as Strip casinos with more than $72M in annual gaming revenues) had more than $6B in annual gaming revenues, corresponding to about 26% of total annual revenues.
From the time period spanning 1985 to 2019, there have been some changes in the mix of table games in casinos on the Strip:
Blackjack: The number of tables decreased from 77% in 1985 to 50% in 2019. Revenue decreased from 50% in 1985 to 11% in 2019.
Craps: Revenue decreased from 28% in 1985 to 11% in 2019.
Roulette: Both the number of tables and revenue increased by 50%.
Baccarat: About 2% of tables and 13% revenue in 1985 to 13% of tables and 37% of revenue in 2019.
Additional games: Games such as pai gow poker, three-card poker, and mini-baccarat have increased in popularity, number of tables, and revenue.
Casino operators have been expanding sports betting facilities and products, as well as renovating and upgrading equipment and facilities. Although sports betting has a relatively low margin, the high-end sportsbooks can generate significant amounts of revenue in other areas, such as food and drink. As a result, sportsbooks have been expanding and upgrading food and drink offerings. High-end sportsbooks include features such as single-seat stadium-style seating, large high-definition screens, a dedicated broadcast booth, and the ability to watch up to 15 sporting events at once. The sports network ESPN is broadcasting sports betting shows from a dedicated studio at The Linq. Some sportsbooks are now offering self-service betting kiosks.
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, and Michael Jackson: One at Mandalay Bay.
The Aladdin had a nine-hole golf course in the 1960s. 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. In 2000, Bali Hai Golf Club opened just south of Mandalay Bay and the Strip. In 2016, a TopGolf opened near the Strip.
Amusement parks and ridesEdit
The Strip is home to the Adventuredome indoor amusement park at Circus Circus. The Adventuredome is glass-enclosed with a carousel, mini-golf, two roller coasters, bowling, spinning rides, arcade, virtual reality rides, carnival midway, and clown shows.
The lower left of the photo shows a portion of the solar array on top of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Although the Strip has elaborate displays, fountains, and large buffet restaurants, many of the hotel resort properties are renowned for their sustainability efforts, including:
Water conservation: Approaches include reclaiming water and placing it back into Lake Mead, using minimal outdoor landscaping, upgrading toilets, using low-flow showerheads, and setting goals for water conservation.
Recycling: In 2017, the recycling rate in Clark County was about 20%, while the recycling rate for major hotels on the Strip was about 40%.
Food handing: Leftover food is composted or sent to agricultural farms. Untouched, undisturbed food is donated to local food banks.
Energy efficiency: Hotels have updated appliances in rooms, installed LED lighting, and installed wireless lighting control systems.
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 and expanded it in 2016. 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 solar array includes more than 26,000 solar panels capable of providing a total of 8.3 megawatts DC (6.5 megawatts AC), sufficient for powering 25% of the Mandalay Bay campus.
Energy-efficient buildings are also being 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.
Aladdin: Opened in 1962 as the Tallyho, became the King's Crown Tallyho in 1963, the Aladdin in 1966, and was demolished in 1998. A new Aladdin resort opened on the property in 2000, and was renamed Planet Hollywood in 2007.
Big Red's Casino: Opened in 1981 and closed in 1982. Property developed for CBS Sports World Casino in 1997. Changed name to Sports World Casino after CBS threatened to sue. Closed in 2001, now a shopping center.
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