LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – You hit the Forum Shops at Caesars. You watched the fountains at Bellagio. You rode the High Roller at The LINQ and the rollercoaster at New York, New York.

It was a whirlwind trip. But there’s one thing you didn’t do.

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You didn’t go to Las Vegas.

Millions of tourists visit the Strip — and lose money in its casinos day and night. But unless they crossed Sahara Boulevard and ventured north toward the downtown casinos, they were never within Las Vegas city limits.

Most people don’t realize it, but the Strip is actually located in unincorporated Clark County, not Las Vegas. Most of the Strip is within the Paradise township — appropriate, right? — while the northern end lies in Winchester township.

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The distinction is a point of pride for county leaders. And far beyond that, the Strip is the biggest economic engine in Nevada, bringing tax dollars to the county that city leaders can only dream about.

Many visitors think they’re already in Vegas when they travel north through the southern end of the Strip, which is marked with the recognizable “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. But the dividing line between Las Vegas and the rest of Clark County is several miles north, at Sahara Avenue.

It’s a noticeable transition, but Las Vegas has recently added a gateway of sorts at the border — an arch that extends over Las Vegas Boulevard with towering showgirls welcoming visitors to the city — just in case it wasn’t clear.

The Strip was born when mobster Bugsy Siegel got fed up with Las Vegas city officials while he was trying to expand his newly purchased El Cortez hotel on Fremont Street in the mid-1940s. His criminal background kept getting in the way.

His solution? He bought into the Flamingo, which was under construction four miles south of downtown — and outside city limits. The 105-room hotel opened in 1947 at a cost of $6 million, and was toasted as “The West’s Greatest Resort Hotel.”

The Flamingo has since changed hands, but it’s the oldest resort on the Strip still in operation.