Las Vegas, one of America’s iconic playgrounds, is among the more defiant inventions. This city — the nation’s fastest-growing major metropolis — was firmly plopped down in a place that was never meant to amount to much. The lure of Las Vegas was portrayed in a recent series of articles in The Times. From strippers to construction workers to bankers, a diverse cast of characters can be found here, some brash and hopeful, others broken and desperate.

Fuelled by its casinos, it has become the nation’s strongest union town and wedding capital; the city with the highest suicide rate; a convention mecca where the likes of Bill Gates come to unveil their latest wares. The mafia-built town has gone awfully mainstream. The mix of locals and visitors in this strange desert mirage is so representative of the nation at large that many consumer products are tested there. And audiences everywhere can’t seem to get enough of Las Vegas.

Beyond the glitz, Las Vegas is a real community, one where public resources struggle to keep pace with individual aspirations. Still, no invented place is more improbable than Las Vegas, and other communities look ridiculous when they try to replicate its gambling-driven success. Other places should heed the town’s marketing slogan: What happens in Vegas, stays in

Vegas. —The New York Times