1. Fit for the Gods
Just like the Egyptian pharaohs who strove to impress with the size of their buildings, The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas has captured notoriety for its eye-catching thirty-story pyramid covered in bronze-coloured glass – complete with Sphinx and obelisk.
The hotel’s atrium, completed in 1993, is 29 million cubic feet (820,000 m³) and could hold nine Boeing 747s stacked on top of each other. That’s an atrium even a Ramesses could appreciate.
The spotlight that shoots straight up to the heavens from the pyramid’s point is claimed to be the brightest in the world.
2. Gambling Haven?
Las Vegas hasn’t always been a gambling hotspot – not legally anyway. The city was founded in 1905 but a federal anti-gambling law shut down the betting in 1910. This merely moved the activity underground until Nevada legalized it again in 1931. And so it continued to grow to the megaresort casino destination we know today.
Oddly enough, however, the state of Nevada doesn’t allow a lottery. According to Article IV, Sec. 24 of the state constitution, “No lottery shall be authorized by this state, nor shall the sale of lottery tickets be allowed.” Numerous attempts to overturn this have failed although church raffles and charitable organization fundraisers are now allowed.
3. Not Enough Room
Las Vegas hotels offer a combined total of rooms over 130,000. In fact, just the accommodations of four big properties such as Tropicana, Excalibur, MGM Grand (which has over 5,000 rooms itself), and New York-New York total more than the entire city of San Francisco. And that’s not just for show: occupancy is often up around 90 per cent.
4. The Strip
The 6.8 km stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard is referred to as The Strip, but in fact, it isn’t located in Las Vegas. The city of Las Vegas goes as far south as Sahara Avenue, but The Strip passes through two unincorporated townships: Winchester and Paradise. All of these communities are in Clark County, Nevada. Eighteen of the world’s biggest hotels are located right on this glamorous road. Some of the Las Vegas Strip properties, however, are as much as a mile off the actual boulevard.
Vegas is a city of glitz and bright lights, to be sure, and just about everywhere you look you can find neon lights blazing. In fact, one of the symbols of the city is the giant neon cowboy Vegas Vic. There are actually over 15,000 miles of neon tubing in the city. The glowing electric signs are so much a part of Vegas that there is a museum dedicated to it: the Neon Museum. Using the rehabilitated lobby of the historic La Concha Motel, the museum hopes to open in 2012 and features over 150 iconic signs and their stories.
(Photo courtesy of gnatallica/Flickr)
6. Skip the Tables
Want to know where the biggest winnings come from for the casinos? Can you belive it’s the one-armed bandits? Slot machines take in over 60 per cent of a casino’s earnings even though video slot machines are required to pay out at least 75 per cent on average. That isn’t to say a particular machine will pay out regularly. It can go days without a significant win, or cough up two big payouts in a short period of time. The slot machine you typically see is fashioned after the Liberty Bell model, invented in 1899 by Charles Fey.
7. Wedding Bells
Thinking about tying the knot with Elvis as your witness? Vegas is the place for weddings, both traditional and alternative.
Estimates go as high as 500 couples per day on the average. Most years the total is over 100,000.
Compare that to Orlando and Disney World where it’s more like 2,000. Having all the kids around maybe isn’t conducive to the spontaneity.
In Vegas all you need is a driver’s license or passport and about $55 for the marriage license, obtainable in as little as 20 minutes. Cash only. A check probably wouldn’t clear in time for the vows.
8. Belly Up
Vegas is known for its food, if not from the gourmet side of things then from just the abundance of it all. Casinos often include cheap or free eats for guests. To give you an idea how much is consumed in a day, shrimp goes down at a rate of over 60,000 pounds a day. That’s more than what’s eaten in the entire rest of the country on a typical day.
((Photo by meerbabykat/Flickr)
9. Room with a View
At 1,149 feet, the Stratosphere Tower is the tallest free-standing observation tower in the US, and the tallest man-made structure west of the Mississippi River. The observation deck perches 869-feet up, with a 360-degree view of Vegas.
Everyone wants the great view, especially of the Strip. In March 2012 ground was broken for a 500-foot SkyVue observation wheel across the street from Mandalay Bay for 2013.
(Photo courtesy of TimTalerJr/Flickr)