The Grit beneath the Glitter: Tales from the Real Las Vegas

By Hal K. Rothman; Mike Davis | Go to book overview

The Social Costs of Rapid
Urbanization in Southern Nevada
ROBERT E. PARKER

Between 1950 and 1990, Nevada's population grew by 651 percent, more rapidly than that of any other state, easily outdistancing Arizona's gain of 389 percent during the same time. 1 The fastestgrowing state throughout the 1980s, Nevada shows no signs of slowing its rapid expansion. Most of this growth occurred in southern Nevada, where Las Vegas and its surrounding communities surpassed 1.3 million residents by 2000. Key actors in the city and the majority of ordinary citizens have heartily embraced the unbridled expansion of recent years. While many of those in the “urban growth coalition, ” particularly those in the hotel/gaming/recreation sector, have had cause to celebrate, the area's rapid growth has left a trail of serious social costs that are borne by local residents.


LOCAL AND NATIONAL BOOSTERISM

In part, Nevada's population explosion can be traced to the mostly favorable treatment the state has received in the electronic and print media, particularly from popular and business periodicals. For example, in 1995, Money ranked Las Vegas as the ninth-best city in the United States in which to live, up from forty-third in 1994, and the fifth-best community among mid-sized cities, and in November 1998, Fortune listed Las Vegas as the best place in the country to have any kind of business. 2

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