By Steve Beauregard – When you think of Las Vegas, you naturally imagine the Strip. Yet the Las Vegas Strip is not actually IN Las Vegas. All parts of the Strip are situated south of the official Las Vegas city limits, in an unincorporated area of Paradise, Nevada. Some of the Strip wanders into a stretch of Winchester, Nevada.
What street is the Las Vegas Strip on? Officially, the Strip is on South Las Vegas Boulevard. For example, on the southern end of the Strip, the Mandalay Bay’s address is 3950 S. Las Vegas Boulevard, while to the north, the Stratosphere’s address is 2000 S. Las Vegas Boulevard.
In fact, there is no official “Las Vegas Strip” street sign, as the name is just a nickname for Las Vegas Boulevard.
Guy McAfee, a Los Angeles police officer, is credited with giving The Strip its nickname. In 1938, McAfee became the new owner of the Pair O’ Dice, which was (sort of), the very first casino on the strip, having opened in 1931.
Reportedly, McAfee imagined the new area as a high-energy, nightclub-packed stretch of land, similar to the Sunset Strip he was familiar with back in L.A.
Today, Guy McAfee’s “strip” stretches for just over 4 miles, end-to-end, although it feels like a lot more when you’re trying to walk from the MGM to the Bellagio, and it’s 115 degrees out. “It can’t be too far, the sign is right there!” many unsuspecting tourists have been heard to say, right before falling down on the hot pavement, dead.
(Here’s footage of an early morning 2014 drive down the Las Vegas Strip)
Before becoming widely-known as the “The Strip” and before becoming Las Vegas Boulevard in the 1950’s, the road had undergone a variety of different names.
There was 5th Street, and Arrowhead Highway, and the “Los Angeles Highway” to signify that this road was the main highway between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, Utah. In fact, what would become the world-famous Vegas Strip was at one time called, the “Salt Lake Highway.” Fortunately that name didn’t stick, because it’s hard to imagine people saying, “I can’t wait! Me and my buddies are flying out to a bachelor party on the Salt Lake Highway!”
At other times, the Strip was officially known as either Nevada 604 and/or US 91, as the road used to be an official part of the Nevada State Highway system.
With the implementation of the Eisenhower Interstate program during the 1950’s, the newly-built Interstate 15 (I-15) was built just to the east of US 91, and took over most of the heavy, long-distance traveler traffic. I-15 runs parallel to the strip and is a major artery for Sin City drivers.
In a similar way, most locals use Paradise Road on west side of the strip to get around and avoid the notoriously slow and busy Strip traffic.
Boutique restaurants and/or hotels like The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino are located on Paradise Road, and the street is main gateway to McCarran International Airport.
The world-famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign marks the southernmost point of the Las Vegas strip. The classic sign, across the street from the Mandalay Bay, was erected in 1959, after a woman named Betty Willis came up with idea while working for a local neon light company.
(Photos courtesy of the Las Vegas News Bureau)
It’s become almost a bucket-list item to have your picture taken in front of the sign, and because of that, a small parking lot adjacent to the sign was built to handle the tourists. The sign and its site are now part of the National Register of Historic Places.
From there, The Strip winds itself North 4.2 miles to its northernmost point, the Stratosphere, in an area that was the birthplace of The Strip. It’s sort of a stretch however, to call the Stratosphere a true Strip hotel, given the fact that when you think of the Strip, you think of excitement. And truthfully, there’s not a lot happening around the Stratosphere.
The next nearest Strip casino is a desolute, empty .8 mile-long walk south to Circus Circus or the Riveria. In between you pass a few souvenir stores, some timeshares, vacant parcels, one newly-remodeled closed casino (The SLS Las Vegas), and one casino that was stopped halfway through construction (Fontainbleau). Although many people do walk it, I don’t recommend it at night.
In June of 2000, Las Vegas Boulevard was named by the Federal Highway Administration as an “All-American Road.” There are just 31 of these in the United States.