The original city planners had a goal in mind when carving Las Vegas out of the red rock desert. The city was built on vice, and beckoned visitors from afar with the dream of getting rich at the poker tables and partaking in the thrill of an adult playground. The Old West-style freedoms, like gambling, that were part of the original plan quickly attracted East Coast gangsters by the dozens. Vegas has changed from those original days, but it took several decades until the area began to pique the interest of a worldwide audience.
Any history lesson focused on the Vegas area tends to start in the 1940s. Though there have been native inhabitants in the area for thousands of years, the Vegas we know today came to be during the 1940s. The Las Vegas metropolitan area currently boasts a population of more than 2 million people; yet in 1940 there were only 8,422 individuals living here. It took the opening of several hotel-casinos and some retail stores in order to attract people to the area, with the population rocketing up to about 24,000 in 1950. Though the population in the 50s was modest, more than 8 million visitors chose Vegas as a destination in 1954.
Fast forward to the 1960s, and more than 64,000 people called Vegas home. The Limited Test Ban Treaty was passed in October of 1963, and banned domestic, above-ground nuclear tests – letting tourists to the area sleep better knowing they wouldn’t have to worry about any atomic fireballs on the horizon. The 60s was a time of great expansion, with ten new major hotels opening on the Strip and Fremont Street. The Rat Pack also gave its first performance in 1960 at the Sands Hotel.
The 1970s saw another doubling of the population. There was a major uptick in the number of shows and entertainment venues in the area, including Elvis Presley and Liberace. The 80s also saw an increase in population, but Vegas was now feeling the heat from East Coast rival Atlantic City, which was granted the right to offer legalized gambling in 1974.
The 1990s were booming with hotels like Excalibur, The Luxor, and Treasure Island popping up on the Strip. One of the most iconic areas in downtown Las Vegas (the old Vegas strip), the Fremont Street Experience, was completed in 1995 and still serves as an incredibly popular destination for visitors and locals, alike.
The early 2000s were a good time in Las Vegas, but 2007 until the early teens was anything but. The area was economically devastated by the national recession, and unemployment skyrocketed up to over 14%. Building stopped, casinos faltered, and homes went to foreclosure at an alarming rate. But as is the case in Las Vegas, a positive outlook and a bit of luck combined to help pull the area out of this economic slump, and Vegas is thriving again!
There are many businesses and sectors doing quite well in Las Vegas today, including sporting and gaming venues, casinos, restaurants, and other tourism-related locales, the logistics industry, manufacturing, mining, and aerospace. With visitor spending topping $35.5 billion in 2016 (up from $30.5 billion in 2015), tourism still remains the biggest draw to the Southern Nevada area. In fact, one in four workers in the Vegas Valley is in some way connected to the tourism industry – it is that large.
The unemployment rate in Vegas is now down to just 4.9% (nationally we’re at 4.8%), and housing prices have rebounded nicely since the crash ten years ago. Serious investment in new, affordable housing, especially in the Downtown area, has boosted interest in moving to this vibrant city. Jobs are here, entertainment options are limitless, and the diversity of the area helps give Las Vegas its own unique vibe.
The revitalized downtown Las Vegas area is getting the most attention these days, as the Downtown 2035 Master Plan Project has created serious focus on improving and beautifying the DTLV area.
Plans include a strategic vision for 5.5 square miles in DTLV, as well as a “sphere of influence” beyond the downtown area that extends out to about 12 miles. The plan includes a focus on creating anchor destinations in the area, boosting spending on infrastructure improvements, encouraging entrepreneurship, and addressing connectivity, affordability, and education concerns. The area already offers a vibrant arts scene, including the 18b Arts District, exciting new housing starts, trendy hotels and casinos, and a distinctly downtown vibe that must be felt to be believed.
Las Vegas has had an interesting history, to say the least, but the economic developments in the area and influx of new residents has made Vegas, especially downtown, a hot new market in which to live, work, and play. For more information about owning your own little slice of the DTLV real estate scene, contact Juhl today. You’ll discover an exciting opportunity to call DTLV home.