10 Las Vegas facts you didn’t already know

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Story highlights

Las Vegas is a museum city -- in its own way

The revitalized Downtown is a fun alternative to the Strip

Las Vegas CNN  — 

Not many cities evoke as many instant associations as Las Vegas.

Maybe you think of the Rat Pack, showgirls and mobsters sipping martinis. Or perhaps it’s bachelorettes and bros on a bender that everyone hopes won’t end up on Facebook.

It’s a town whose story has been told thousands of times, in books such as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” movies such as “Casino” and television shows from “Vega$” to “Vegas.”

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How much sin can Bourdain take?
01:30 - Source: CNN

But there’s much more to the city than just sin.

More than 600,000 people live here – closer to 900,000 if you include the adjacent suburb of Henderson. Plenty of slots and cocktails still abound, but the arts and cultural scene is blossoming and a tech boom is building.

There’s a lot about Vegas you might not know – and we don’t just mean magic tricks, personal secrets or those holes in the desert you see in gangster movies.

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1. Down with the old, up with the new

No town turns over real estate like Las Vegas. The Wynn inhabits the site of the storied Desert Inn; the Bellagio has totally obliterated the Dunes. Planet Hollywood still has some of the Aladdin buried inside, while the Sahara was gutted and repurposed as the SLS.

There’s still a Flamingo, but Bugsy Siegel didn’t run rampant there – the final remnant of the original hotel was torn down in 1993.

A small plaque in the garden indicates the location of Siegel’s personal suite, which had bulletproof glass, earthquake-proof walls and a trapdoor in the closet leading to escape tunnels.

2. City of culture

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Bourdain: Jazz and nostalgia in Vegas
01:42 - Source: CNN

Las Vegas is a big museum town – in its own way.

We have the Neon Museum, a dazzling pile of obsolete signage, from vast casinos such as the Stardust and Moulin Rouge to roadside motel dice or the smiling shirt advertising a dry cleaner.