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Alon Levy

This is not how I remember Las Vegas from when I was there in 2006. I remember the Strip as being composed of huge hotels without much walking between them; the convention I was at was mostly contained to one hotel, but whenever there was an event at another hotel, we had to share taxis.

Also, I think the aesthetic issue with Las Vegas isn't about having a city in a desert, but about the kitsch, and the sleaze. I like to say that it's a poor man's Monaco, and people who've been to both cities seem to agree with me. In Monaco, hotels look like typical urban hotels, without copies of world-famous monuments; gas stations and convenience stores don't have slot machines; Monte Carlo's layout encourages people to go out of their hotels and walk on the streets, rather than just gamble all day long.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Alon. The walk I took was in the central part of the Strip just north of Tropicana Avenue. I have no doubt there are plenty of hotel-fortresses left in other areas. And I'm sure it doesn't approach the urbanism of Monte Carlo.

calwatch

And while the part of Vegas along the Strip, and Downtown, has become more pedestrian facility, the rest of the city just looks as dumpy as it always has. Maybe it's the desert environment, but the slums of Las Vegas (low slung two and three story apartment buildings and unmaintained houses) dwarf any other similar type area on the West Coast, and the instant slums of 2,000 square foot homes on 4,000 square foot lots, with their snout noses and lack of buffer space, now foreclosed upon, don't help much either.

calwatch

Er, Pedestrian friendly.

Wad

Las Vegas is fascinating transit-wise as the metropolitan area is, sociologically, as interesting as used toilet paper.

CAT gets phenomenal ridership despite the brutal weather, the land uses hostile to non-car use (example: street medians are used to discourage jaywalking, while at the same time crosswalks can be very far apart), and the surliest drivers in the Western Hemisphere.

And despite Las Vegas being the capital of sensory overload, it keeps transit at its lowest common denominator. Las Vegas resists rail even though there are corridors that have the ridership density to support rail service. It's all-bus to the point of being stubbornly so. Yet even its infrequent buses are often packed.

As for Calwatch's comment, I would say that the Phoenix area has it much worse. Phoenix developed the same land patterns, but an economy built entirely on momentum. At least Las Vegas has the tourism economy to justify growth.

Yet, quite possibly, Las Vegas may also end up becoming the Detroit of the 21st century. It made the same mistake: an economic monoculture defined by one industry.

Las Vegas was a great place to work for many because it represented the last, best and only hope of redundant workers grasping at the margins of economic relevance.

The wages were decent, there was plenty of work, and the casino operations gave somewhat of an advantage because the required security clearances meant they couldn't be turfed to machines or a tidal wave of immigrants. Las Vegas attracted plenty of them, too, but mostly for non-frontline and custodial jobs.

There's one problem, one that will be very visible once the housing bubble is cleaned up.

The Las Vegas miracle is one that could be easily replicated, and within a generation, Las Vegas may join Phoenix and most of the Southwest as the Dust Belt.

It started first with the Native American casinos. Initially it began with the Connecticut mega-resorts Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. That transferred casino commerce away from Atlantic City. The next big wave came after California opened the floodgates. Card clubs and bingo halls added slot machines, and the more established casinos grew into mega-resorts. The tipping point might have been when Pechanga expanded into its current resort.

This allowed the California Indian casinos to offer the same caliber of casino tourism as Nevada, and they did it in a fraction of the time as Nevada. The spike in gas prices helped to decimate the market. But Las Vegas, because it can attract A-list shows, fares far better than forlorn Reno, Laughlin or the state line casinos.

The third wave is the concerted efforts by Gulf of Mexico-area states to develop full-blown Redneck Rivieras. Hurricane Katrina pushed this initiative into overdrive.

Las Vegas will lose its hegemony in the casino market, and despite Nevada being a tax haven, this does not trickle down into a robust, diversified economy. It certainly won't come from the residents. They aren't entrepreneurs or from the "middle class" in the classical sense. Las Vegas is a giant Labor Ready office.

Changing the architectural form won't change the predicament of Las Vegas. I see the same happening in Las Vegas as is happening in Phoenix much as how Rogue Columnist Jon Talton at http://roguecolumnist.typepad.com chronicles it. Thanks, Calwatch, for that link, BTW.

Thomas Morris

I found Las Vegas, circa 2005, to be weirdly receptive to pedestrians but totally unsuited for them. Example were the nice crowded sidewalks sandwiching the strips vehicular traffic. As well the scale the Strip is built on makes walking seem like a good idea until you start walking to another hotel and finally getting there a half-hour later. A completely inhuman scale.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Thanks for the comments! I think I agree with all of them so far ...

EngineerScotty

The evolution of spam-bots never ceases to amaze; here's one which tries to be on topic.

Tessa

That is pretty amazing. It's actually just quoting the wikipedia entry on Las Vegas, though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas,_Nevada

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

I'm impressed too!  But I still deleted it!  Perhaps someone wants to start a spam appreciation blog, and we can move these discussions over there.  ;-)

EngineerScotty

Won't be long before the spambots are smarter than Randall O'Toole....

EngineerScotty

Nope, not yet.

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the firm

Jarrett is now in ...

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