Nanowires are filamentary crystals with a tailored diameter that can be obtained using a plethora of different synthesis techniques. In this review, we focus on the vapor phase, highlighting the most influential achievements along with a historical perspective. Starting with the discovery of VLS, we feature the variety of structures and materials that can be synthesized in the nanowire form. We then move on to establish distinct features such as the three-dimensional heterostructure/doping design and polytypism. We summarize the status quo of the growth mechanisms, recently confirmed by in situ electron microscopy experiments and defining common ground between the different synthesis techniques. We then propose a selection of remaining defects, starting from what we know and going toward what is still to be learned. We believe this review will serve as a reference for neophytes but also as an insight for expertsin an effort to bring open questions under a new light.