Las Vegas, New Mexico

The City of Las Vegas, New Mexico
—  City  —
The City of Las Vegas, New Mexico
Location of Las Vegas, New Mexico
Coordinates: 35°35′49″N 105°13′21″W / 35.59694°N °W / 35.59694; -105.2225
Country United States
State New Mexico
County San Miguel
Area
 - Total  dunams (19.5 km2 / 7.5 sq mi)
 - Land
 - Water
Elevation
Population (2000)
 - Total 14565
 Density
 - Urban density
 - Rural density
 - Metro density
 -  Density
 -  Density
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP codes 87701, 87745
Area code(s) 505
FIPS code 35-39940
GNIS feature ID 0915788

Las Vegas is a city in 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"), divided by the Gallinas River, retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts. The population was 14,565 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of San Miguel County.

Contents


History

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, the precursor to Regis University was founded by a group of exiled Italian Jesuits, known as Las Vegas College. In 1887, Las Vegas College moved to Denver.[1]

When the railroad arrived in 1880, it set up shop one mile (1.6 km) east of the Plaza, creating a separate, rival New Town (as in Albuquerque). 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, a major Harvey House hotel, and the New Mexico Normal School (now New Mexico Highlands University). Since the decline of the railroad began in the 1950s, the city's population has remained relatively constant. Although the two towns have been combined, separate school districts remain (Las Vegas City Schools and West Las Vegas School District).

Outlaws

The arrival of the railroad on July 4, 1879 brought with it businesses and people, 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, Durango Kid and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler.[2]

Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed, "Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas."[3]

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.[4]

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 their 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.[5]

Geography

Las Vegas is located at (35.597031, -105.222589). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.5 square miles (19.5 km²), all of it land.

Las Vegas is due east of Santa Fe on Interstate 25, the highway that connects Santa Fe with Albuquerque.

Demographics

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/sq mi (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.

Education

The City of Las Vegas is served by two public school districts. Las Vegas City Schools serve areas of the city located east of the Gallinas River. Areas west of the Gallinas River are served by West Las Vegas School District.

Las Vegas is the home of New Mexico Highlands University and Luna Community College. The United World College in nearby Montezuma, New Mexico is a two-year international high school and one of the venues used by the International Baccalaureate Program for teacher training in the United States.

Architecture

Las Vegas is home to a very large number of 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, 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

Transportation

Railway

Airport

Major Highways

Movies filmed in Las Vegas

Notable residents

  • Margaret Larkin (1899–1967), an American writer and musician, was born in Las Vegas
  • Patrick Swayze (1952–2009), an American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter, had a ranch in Las Vegas.
  • Eddie Guerrero (1967–2005), Professional wrestler for WWE, wrestled for New Mexico Highlands University.

References

  1. . College Profiles. 1991-07-01. http://www.collegeprofiles.com/regis.html. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  2. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/NM-LasVegas.html[dead link]
  3. . Edge.net. 1974-08-22. http://www.edge.net/~dphillip/Outlaw.html. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 
  4. http://lasvegasnm.org/community/library.htm[dead link]
  5. . Lasvegasmuseum.org. http://www.lasvegasmuseum.org. Retrieved 2010-07-28.