Vegas Myths Re-Shattered: The Las Vegas Strip is located in the city of Las Vegas


Published on: December 29, 2023 at 08:04 pm.

Last updated on: December 19, 2023, 10:55 pm.

Editor’s note: “Vegas Myths Busted” is published every Monday, with an additional Flashback Friday edition. Today’s post in our ongoing series originally ran on October 28, 2022.

The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, NV” sign is false, not about the cool part of it, but rather about welcoming anyone to Las Vegas. The sign is located a full four miles south of Las Vegas on a portion of Las Vegas Boulevard that takes motorists from Enterprise, Nevada, to Paradise, Nevada. They are both separate towns in Clark County.

Welcome to the great Las Vegas sign
The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign blurs the distinction between Las Vegas and a town called Paradise. (Photo:

What the world thinks is Las Vegas is not Las Vegas. If your entire trip to Las Vegas consists of landing at Harry Reid International Airport and staying and playing on the Strip, you’ll never set foot in Las Vegas.

Yes. So, couldn’t the sign be interpreted as a welcome to motorists to the greater Las Vegas area? No, that would be another lie. The Las Vegas Valley begins near Sloan, Nevada, 11 miles south of the sign.

What gives?

money. Also, there’s a little secret that the owners of the original hotels on the Las Vegas Strip — and perhaps today’s hotels — didn’t want visitors to know: Paradise, Nevada, is a place they made up to avoid paying taxes to the city of Las Vegas and get around its stricter laws and regulations.

By 1950, the Pair-o-Dice Club, Thunderbird, El Rancho, Last Frontier, Flamingo, and Desert Inn were already rising up on either side of Interstate 91, as the main route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles was then known. So, Las Vegas Mayor Ernie Cragin made a natural move.

Since the area was no longer the undeveloped desert of Clark County, and as sparkling new casino resorts diverted an increasing amount of Las Vegas-bound traffic from Los Angeles, he tried to annex it. Expanding the city’s tax base at that time would have financed the ambitious building agenda and paid off the city’s growing debt.

Property taxes within the city limits were much greater than outside them ($5 per $100 of assessment versus $3.48 per $100). Gambling and liquor license fees and taxes also cost more. This did not sit well with a group of casino executives led by Gus Greenbaum, whom mobster Meyer Lansky put as the late Bugsy Siegel’s replacement in charge of the Flamingo in 1947. The group lobbied the Clark County commissioners for township status. This would have prevented any annexation without the committee’s approval.

Many internet sources accuse the committee of accepting mafia bribes to establish the town of Paradise, which is certainly possible, if not likely. Lobbyists also included Desert Inn “owner” Wilbur Clark, who was the front man for the Cleveland mob Moe Dalitz. Former UNLV history professor Eugene Mooring’s 1989 book, “A Resort Town in the Sunbelt.”“,” He suggested that the commissioners had other incentives to vote to create the town.

“Victory came on December 8, 1950, when county commissioners, eager to prevent Las Vegas expansion while expanding their tax bases and power, granted the petitioners’ request.” he wrote.

Paradise takes its name from the former name of the area. Paradise Valley, known since at least 1910, has an unusually high water table, making the land a farmers’ paradise. At the time of its founding, the town was one mile wide and four miles long. A month later, it was expanded to include all residential areas in Paradise Valley, bringing its area to 54 square miles.

Paradise lie

Any doubts about the legitimacy of the new town were confirmed by the composition of the first town board, which consisted entirely of Greenbaum, Dalitz, and executives from El Rancho, Last Frontier, and Thunderbird. (Incidentally, eight years after the formation of Paradise, Greenbaum followed in Siegel’s footsteps in another way by becoming the victim of another gangster-style murder that was never solved.)

Although now located in Paradise, the Highway 91 Casino hotels all continued to brand their location in their marketing campaigns, on their postcards, and on their properties as Las Vegas. The major resorts that replaced it still do so to this day. It is easy to understand why. Perpetuating this myth allows them to enjoy the worldwide fame that a Las Vegas address conveys without paying a dime in city taxes.

Why is it called Las Vegas Boulevard/Las Vegas Strip?

When construction began on Interstate 15, which became the main route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, the name of Interstate 91 was changed to reflect its functional transformation into a local road. Since it led to Las Vegas, it officially became Las Vegas Boulevard in 1959.

The casino hotel operators couldn’t be happier as it made Paradise look more like Las Vegas to tourists.

The first known reference to Interstate 91 as “The Strip” appeared in a March 1947 newspaper advertisement for a new casino hotel called the Big Hat. “Straight from Ciro’s and Lindy’s,” described the Alperi Trio’s musical act, “Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip to Las Vegas’ Strip.” (Lindy’s Steakhouse has long since been demolished, and Ciro’s became the Comedy Store in 1972.)

According to the widow of former Los Angeles cop Jay McAfee, her late husband had been using the nickname “The Strip” since shortly after he purchased the small Pair-O-Dice Casino on the abandoned road in 1939. It was a purely sarcastic comparison to the bustling Sunset Strip he left behind.

This story may be apocryphal, since no record of it exists until after McAfee’s death in January 1960. Regardless, in 1959, once Interstate 15 was under construction, Interstate 91 was decommissioned and renamed Las Vegas Boulevard to reflect his career move to A local road, the Las Vegas Strip has become a common language.

That same year, Clark County hired Western Electric Displays to perpetuate this myth further. The company installed a “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign designed by Betty Willis.

Look for “Vegas Legends Busted” every Monday Visit to read previously busted Vegas myths. Do you have a suggestion for a Vegas legend that we haven’t uncovered yet? Email

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