Henderson became an important area during World War II as the location of the Basic Magnesium Plant that supplied the newly created "miracle metal" for munitions and airplane parts. At the end of the war the military deemed the production of magnesium no longer necessary and the facilities closed. Henderson became an official town when members of the Nevada State Legislature spent a weekend visiting the area, after which it voted unanimously to give the Colorado River Commission of Nevada the authority to purchase the industrial plants, housing and other facilities to save the area from being sold as war surplus property.
With the help of local industry, the City of Henderson, Nevada, was officially incorporated on April 16, 1953. Originally about 13 square miles in size, the city quickly began to grow and flourish. Today, the City of Henderson has grown to more than 94.5 square miles and is the second largest city in Nevada with an estimated population of 256,390 residents (2006), which makes it the second largest city in the state. The city's official slogan "Henderson—a Place to Call Home" reflects a community that enjoys small town values while benefiting from big city efficiencies. Henderson is home toTouro University Nevada, University of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College.
In recent years the establishment of several major shopping malls, movie theater complexes, restaurants and casino resorts offer residents a variety of choices for leisure time. "Shakespeare in the Park" celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1996, a testament to the community's long standing support for the arts and cultural programs. The City also boasts the largest recreational facility – theMultigenerational Facility at Liberty Pointe – in Nevada as well as Nevada's only scenic Bird Preserve. The City supports a variety of other cultural events as well, many of which are held at the outdoor amphitheater, the largest one of its kind in Nevada. In 2006, Money magazine ranked Henderson 20th in its annual list of the top 100 places to live in the U.S.
Henderson is also a location for the production of television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the "Real CSI" a docudrama produced by Lyon Television from London, England. The Lyon TV crew also filmed and produced two one-hour episodes of "Las Vegas CSU", which featured one of the Henderson CSI team members, as well as several CSIs and Forensic Scientists from LVMPD in Las Vegas. Each of the episodes have been shown on Court TV in the U.S. several times. The now-demolished theme park "Old Vegas" (briefly renamed "Westworld"), which was located in Henderson, was used for several outdoor scenes for the Western TV series Gunsmoke. The property is now the site of a housing development, also named Old Vegas. The most famous Henderson resident is screen legend Tony Curtis.
Additionally, Henderson has many attractions and sites that celebrate local history, art and culture, preserve and showcase the diverse flora and fauna of the area, and a wide range of recreation. These include the Acacia Demonstration Gardens, Art Emporium, Clark County Museum, Ethel M Botanical Cactus Gardens, Ethel M Chocolates Factory, Galleria at Sunset, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa, and Casino, The District at Green Valley Ranch, Fiesta Henderson, Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and Water Reclamation Facility, Henderson Pavilion, LakeLas Vegas Resort, Sunset Station Hotel and Casino, Towbin Dodge, Joshua "Chop" Towbin's dealership featured on the A&E sitcom "King of Cars," Veteran's Wall, Wildhorse Golf Club, and the Black Mountain Recreation Center.