Typically, in order to make something grow you need water. It’s a pretty basic building block about cultivating, y’know, life.
Las Vegas does not get thirsty, it would seem, or at least it doesn’t need water to thrive. That truth is all the more evident thanks to new satellite footage released by NASA that shows Sin City’s incredible growth over the past forty years.
Las Vegas is a curious specimen with how it defies all conventional wisdom regarding the success and growth of thriving cities. For one, it’s in the middle of nowhere. Las Vegas is one of the largest cities to ever exist without immediate access to a major port, harking back to the days when access to a major waterway defined the growth of cities. In spite of the fact that it’s in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas underwent a huge real estate frenzy in the 1970s that saw the creation of iconic hotels like the MGM Grand and the Mirage. As you’ll see in the video below, it’s right around the mid-1980s when the sprawl really starts kicking.
The video was released by NASA to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Landsat 5 satellite. The Landsat program has continuously collected data about Earth’s changing landscape since the early 1970s. The footage documenting Las Vegas’ growth is a collection of images from all of the Landsat satellites.
According to NASA, the video is shown in false-color, meaning that the large red areas you see are actually green spaces, mostly comprised of golf courses and city parks. It’s stupefying that such a green landscape can artificially exist like that.