Las Vegas, New Mexico facts for kids
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Las Vegas, New Mexico
Downtown Las Vegas
Location of Las Vegas, New Mexico
|• Type||Mayor-council government|
|• Total||7.5 sq mi (19.5 km2)|
|• Land||7.5 sq mi (19.5 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||6,424 ft (1,958 m)|
|• Density||1,938.2/sq mi (748.3/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-7 (Mountain (MST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-6 (MDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0915788|
Las Vegas is a city in and the county seat of San Miguel County, New Mexico, United States. Once two separate municipalities (one a city and the other a town) both named Las Vegas, west Las Vegas ("Old Town") and east Las Vegas ("New Town"), separated by the Gallinas River, retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts. The population was 14,565 at the 2000 census. Las Vegas, NM is located 110 miles (180 km) south of Raton, New Mexico, 65 miles (105 km) east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, 122 miles (196 km) northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico, 257 miles (414 km) south of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and 326 miles (525 km) south of Denver, Colorado.
Las Vegas was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings which could serve as fortifications in case of attack. Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. During the Mexican-American War in 1846, Stephen W. Kearny delivered an address at the Plaza of Las Vegas claiming New Mexico for the United States. In 1877 Las Vegas College, the precursor to Regis University, was founded in Las Vegas by a group of exiled Italian Jesuits. In 1887, Las Vegas College moved to Denver whereupon the name was changed.
A railroad was constructed to the town in 1880. To maintain control of development rights, it established a station and related development one mile (1.6 km) east of the Plaza, creating a separate, rival New Town, as occurred elsewhere in the Old West. The same competing development occurred in Albuquerque, for instance. During the railroad era Las Vegas boomed, quickly becoming one of the largest cities in the American Southwest. Turn-of-the-century Las Vegas featured all the modern amenities, including an electric street railway, the "Duncan Opera House" at the northeast corner of 6th Street and Douglas Avenue, a Carnegie library, the Hotel Castaneda (a major Harvey House), and the New Mexico Normal School (now New Mexico Highlands University). Since the decline and restructuring of the railroad industry began in the 1950s, the city's population has remained relatively constant. Although the two towns have been combined, separate school districts have been maintained (Las Vegas City Schools and West Las Vegas School District).
The anti-colonist organization Las Gorras Blancas was active in the area in the 1890s.
The first billed Cowboy Reunions were held once a year within 1915 until 1931. These reunions were meant to celebrate the ranching life that took place in northern New Mexico in the late 1800s. These reunions consisted of fair like activities, including pie eating contests, barbecues, and parades. They brought the working cowhand and celebrities of Rodeos together in the town of Las Vegas. The Cowboy Reunions reflected the occupations of the area.
The arrival of the railroad on July 4, 1879 brought with it businesses, development and new residents, both respectable and dubious. Murderers, robbers, thieves, gamblers, gunmen, swindlers, vagrants, and tramps poured in, transforming the eastern side of the settlement into a virtually lawless brawl. Among the notorious characters were such legends of the Old West as: dentist Doc Holliday and his girlfriend Big Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Hoodoo Brown, and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler.
Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed regarding the Old West, "Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas."
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.5 square miles (19 km2), all of it land.
|Climate data for Las Vegas, New Mexico. (Elevation 6,450ft)|
|Record high °F (°C)||72
|Average high °F (°C)||45.6
|Average low °F (°C)||18.4
|Record low °F (°C)||−26
|Precipitation inches (mm)||0.32
|Snowfall inches (cm)||6.4
|Source: The Western Regional Climate Center|
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,565 people, 5,588 households, and 3,559 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,938.2 people per square mile (748.8/km²). There were 6,366 housing units at an average density of 847.1 per square mile (327.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.21% White, 0.99% African American, 1.96% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 37.19% from other races, and 4.95% from two or more races. Hispanic of any race were 82.94% of the population.
There were 5,588 households out of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.0% were married couples living together, 21.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.3% were non-families. 30.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.4% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 90.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $24,214, and the median income for a family was $29,797. Males had a median income of $26,319 versus $21,731 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,619 as compared to $21,587 nationally as noted in the 2000 Census. About 24.3% of families and 27.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.7% of those under age 18 and 20.1% of those age 65 or over.
Libraries and museums
The New Mexico Highlands University is home to the Thomas C. Donnelly Library. It supports the teaching, research and community activities of New Mexico Highlands University. It acquires, organizes, preserves and provides access to pertinent information and scholarly materials for curricular needs, intellectual pursuits and personal enrichment of its clientele. It promotes programs and services that emphasize the diversity of the university’s multicultural community and heritage. An addition increased the square footage from 23,700 to 53,500 and now holds a book collection of almost 200,000 volumes.
Las Vegas' Carnegie Library, established in 1904, is the only surviving Carnegie Library in New Mexico. Built from a $10,000 donation from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, its Neo-Classical Revival architecture resembles Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. The library sits in the middle of a park that occupies an entire city block, bordered by Victorian-style homes and buildings.
The City of Las Vegas Museum & Rough Rider Memorial on Grand Avenue, dedicated in 1940, was first established by the decision of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders regiment (the first Volunteer Cavalry Regiment of the Spanish–American War), who named Las Vegas its official reunion home. Their first reunion was held in Las Vegas, June 1899.
The museum, free and open to the public, houses a memorial collection of artifacts, archives and photographs from the Rough Riders and mementos in relation to the 1898 Cuban Campaign of the Spanish–American War, with information on over 200 members of the original regiment, RRR Association documents, etc. The museum illuminates the history of Las Vegas, its connection to the Rough Riders, the Santa Fe Trail and the development of New Mexico. It features collections of local Native American pottery, household items, costumes, ranching and farming equipment, agricultural and mercantile operations, and home life.
Housed in a 1940 Works Progress Administration-funded building, the museum is built of stone, with Pueblo Revival nuances.
Las Vegas has numerous historic structures (mostly railroad-era houses and commercial buildings), with over 900 listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although many buildings are in varying states of deterioration, others have been restored or are awaiting restoration. Some of the city's notable buildings include:
- Dr. H.J. Mueller House, now a Bed and Breakfast called Crow's Nest Bed and Breakfast. An 1881 example of Victorian eclecticism with unusual octagonal tower
- Plaza Hotel, 1881, site of the first reunion of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders in 1899
- Old City Hall, New Mexico's first municipal building, completed in 1892
- Louis Fort House, Queen Anne house on Carnegie Park, built in 1895
- Masonic Temple, Richardsonian Romanesque building erected in 1895
- La Castaneda Hotel, mission-style Harvey House built in 1898
- Carnegie Library, built in 1903 at the center of Carnegie Park and modeled after Monticello
- Las Vegas Amtrak Station is a stop on the Southwest Chief route.
- Las Vegas Municipal Airport Single engine, small commercial jets, and helicopters.
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