|The City of Las Vegas, New Mexico|
|— City —|
|The City of Las Vegas, New Mexico|
|Location of Las Vegas, New Mexico|
|- Total||dunams (19.5 km2 / 7.5 sq mi)|
|- Urban density|
|- Rural density|
|- Metro density|
|Time zone||Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)|
|- Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC-6)|
|ZIP codes||87701, 87745|
|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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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: