You can thank Steve Wynn and the Golden Nugget for that little inconvenience. Opened in 1946 as a small “sawdust joint,” the Golden Nugget eventually swallowed the entire downtown block bounded by Fremont Street, Casino Center Drive, Carson Avenue, and First Street. That wasn’t enough for Wynn, who in 1973 acquired his first controlling interest in a Vegas casino at the Nugget. Ten years later, he convinced the city of Las Vegas to vacate a portion of Carson (between Casino Center and First) to accommodate an expansion. Expand the Nugget he did, but Wynn (who, ironically, once told ABC News that Las Vegas was “one of the most benign, square places on earth”) also stripped the Nugget of its iconic neon and old-school exterior, remaking it as a bright-white-and-gold AAA 4-diamond resort (New Vegas: 1, Old Vegas: Dead). Later, in 2008, new owners Landry’s followed Wynn’s lead by again asking the city of Las Vegas to vacate a public right of way—this time, First Street—to allow another expansion that included the Rush Tower, new restaurants, the Gold Diggers Lounge and the pool area.
I hear The Native once lived in Summerlin. What was your favorite thing about that?
You mean besides being surrounded by The Real Housewives of Summerlin? All that climbing in and out of SUVs sure makes yoga pants fit well. OK, seriously: I know you are trying to bait me, but I’m not biting. I liked living in Summerlin the way I like a new car; I just didn’t love it. I was raised in the center of old Vegas, and Summerlin felt contrived to me. Admittedly, I lived there in an early stage when it was contrived. Today, it’s an honest-to-goodness community (much like Green Valley, which had about a 10-year head start). We have a generation of young adults who were born and raised there, Las Vegas natives who longingly recall their first meal at Whole Foods the way I reminisce about prom dinner at the Top of the Mint. So let me twist your question a little: The best thing about living downtown? For a change of scenery, I stop at my favorite Summerlin café when heading back from Red Rock. It sure is a nice place to visit …
Follow James P. Reza via RSS.