The towering casinos that line the strip have long defined Las Vegas. This decade, Sin City became known as a boomtown as well, its population surging 30 percent between 2000 and 2006, to 1.8 million people. The ensuing spike in housing demand, combined with easy-to-come-by mortgages, fueled a building boom and a steep run-up in home values, with the median price ballooning from $129,000 to $295,000.
What came next - the subprime crisis, credit squeeze, housing slump and resulting economic fallout felt by much of the country - has played out with particular vigor here. Home prices have fallen by 30 percent, and most predict still have a ways to go. Large housing developments are sitting empty or half-completed, and foreclosures have soared: In November, RealtyTrac listed 17,408 bank-owned properties for sale. To make matters worse, tourism, the economy's main driver, is down.