THE ULTIMATE COMPANY TOWN
Las Vegas Valley is a flat--a very flat--stretch of about 500 square miles of dry desert land surrounded by smooth, treeless brown mountains. In 1999 it was home to well over a million people. Projecting into the future the valley's current rate of growth (there were about 400,000 people here in 1980, 700,000 in 1990), the Nevada State demographer envisions two million people living in Las Vegas Valley by 2010. This prospect horrifies some residents, who insist that they will be long gone before the two-millionth citizen arrives, at the same time that it tantalizes real estate developers. These million or two million people are or will be here--whether or not they realize or admit it--because of the Industry, as insiders tend to call it, the way people in Los Angeles refer to the companies that make movies and television films.
The Industry in Las Vegas is casino gambling, which its representatives would like you to call the Gaming Industry. For most people this denotes a four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South called the Strip, which occasionally spills over onto side and parallel streets, from Sahara Avenue at the north end to just past Hacienda Avenue at the south, where it bumps into McCarran Airport. The Industry also implies Downtown, a couple of miles north of the Strip, which was once a genuine downtown,