Located in the state of Nevada, Las Vegas is one of the most populous cities within the U.S. whose aggregated business economy initially developed almost entirely around the tourism industry brought in by the numerous gambling, gaming and entertainment establishments within the city (McCracken, 1997). In total, the city has a total population of 1,951,269 individuals and is well known as “The Entertainment Capital of the World”. The growth of Las Vegas as a city can almost entirely be attributed to the creation of the various casinos on the Las Vegas strip. Starting in 1931 with the El Rancho Casino, the area grew into a location known for gambling and entertainment as the number of casinos and hotels along the strip increased (McCracken, 1997).
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This, of course, led to the agglomeration of various businesses establishments such as independent hotels, construction firms, restaurants, etc. The main issue with development in this particular region of Nevada was the fact that it was situated right in the middle of a desert and as such necessitated considerable land reclamation efforts to establish the city boundaries that Las Vegas is known for today (McCracken, 1997). Of course, initially, there were problems related to labour shortages, water resources and the fact that there were far too agglomerated businesses within the area as a direct result of the spatial difference between Las Vegas and the nearest major population centre at the time of its initial growth. Such problems though were eventually overcome because since the Las Vegas strip was situated near Highway 91, this made it a major stopover for people going through Nevada and into other states. Eventually, its location along the highway became its major selling point establishing the initial basis for the tourism industry that the city is known for today (McCracken, 1997).
As a direct result of the growth of its tourism industry, this also resulted in more people moving to Las Vegas for work resulting in a subsequent boom in agglomerated business establishments and real estate development within the city to meet the demands of the subsequent increase in the population of the city. At present, a large percentage of the businesses and gambling establishments are concentrated along the Las Vegas Strip, which is actually in line with the ideas presented by Michael Ball involving agglomeration and spatial division. The inherent problem with the city itself is that its entire economy is almost entirely dependent on a constant influx of tourists into various gambling establishments. This city has had little time to develop a substantial industrial manufacturing base, and it also is not known as a major business centre, such a problem could pose a serious problem in the future if it is not dealt with soon.
Unfortunately as of late, the city has become a victim of its own success as an immediate result of the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. First and foremost what you have to understand is that the degree of agglomeration seen within Las Vegas is a direct result of the tourism industry that the various gambling and entertainment establishments bring (Dokoupil, 2011). Without the tourism industry, the city has little in the way of an alternative income base from which it could derive a large percentage of its income. As such, when the 2008 financial crisis hit and in effect plunged the U.S. into three-year recession this of course resulted in a considerable loss of income for the various agglomerated establishments within the area (Dokoupil, 2011).
Adding to this problem is the fact that the basis for the spatial differentiation which started the construction boom within the city was based on the idea that demand for real estate within the city would grow like the city itself grew as a direct result of increased agglomeration and more people coming into the city to find jobs (Abramsky, 2010). While this idea was somewhat sound, it, unfortunately, hinged itself on the concept that no undue interference would affect the Vegas economy (Abramsky, 2010). As Michael Ball showed in his example involving the closure of the steel mill, the basis for local agglomerations (in this case the gambling industry within Las Vegas) can and often are affected by external economic factors. In this particular case, it was the housing crisis as well as the resulting recession which acted as a “double whammy” so to speak which in effect devastated the local Vegas economy as well as its housing industry. While Las Vegas at present continues to exist, the fact remains that without a considerable economic recovery and a considerable resurgence in the local tourism industry it is likely that the city is headed for its inevitable destruction as its labour force continues to move away as a direct result of a lack of jobs within the city.
Abramsky, S. (2010). Nevada Goes Bust. Nation, 291(12), 20. Web.
McCracken, R. D. (1997). Las Vegas: The Great American Playground. University of Nevada Press. Web.
Dokoupil, T. (2011). Rich Vegas, Poor Vegas. Newsweek, 157(12), 58. Web.