Las Vegas is a city of San Miguel County, New Mexico. 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"), separated by the Gallinas River retain distinct characters and separate, rival school districts.
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.
<div> 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 The Hotel Castañeda, and the New Mexico Normal School (now New Mexico Highlands University).