How will yesterday’s Las Vegas be part of the Las Vegas of 2034?
Many people think that buildings define cities, and there’s been much hand-wringing over the way Las Vegas implodes its past in pursuit of its future. But our young metropolis remains informed more by its slap-dash frontier past than any connection to the great and “permanent” cities of Europe. Heck, as New Yorkers crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, we were walking wooden sidewalks.
That said, 20 years is a long time in such a rapidly changing city. While we have made some changes (some forced by the recession) to our tear-it-down approach, including a growing trend of adaptive reuse (the Mob Museum, the Zappos headquarters), I don’t see that defining our future. The limited stock of land in the Valley—especially in the resort corridor—will spur more tear-downs in the future.
Except perhaps the Stratosphere Tower—which, because of logistics, may never come down—I don’t see the buildings of the past defining our future. After all, a city is a collection of people, not buildings; for better or worse, we will remain defined by those we attract. Thus, Las Vegas at 119 will be much like Las Vegas at 19: an always-reaching, egalitarian outpost of individual freedom, offering risk-takers the opportunity to spectacularly succeed or fail. There is something exhilarating about a place that doesn’t allow sentimentality (or rationality) to impede its future. That attitude is the cornerstone of the once and future Las Vegas.
For more visions of Las Vegas 20 years from now, stay tuned for Vegas Seven’s fourth anniversary issue, on newsstands and VegasSeven.com February 6.