Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
The iconic Riviera will close its doors Monday and prepare for implosion as the Strip gets reinvented for a new generation.
At noon Pacific Time, Las Vegas' iconic Riviera Hotel and Casino will close its doors. After more than six decades in business (including turns at hosting Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Barbara Streisand), the "Riv" will be making way for an expanded Las Vegas convention center. But not before receiving the ultimate Sin City salute: death by implosion.
It will be the third major structure in Las Vegas to come down the dynamite way this year, along with February's implosions of the Clarion and Gramercy hotels. In an excellent explainer on the history and mechanics of successful implosions, As the Las Vegas Sun notes that this season's string of tower-topplings marks the city's return to the implosion business, "picking up where it left off after a string of iconic resorts were brought down with explosives from 1993 to 2007."
And as before, the demolitions imply their opposite: Las Vegas is reinventing itself again as it recovers from the recession's long economic downturn. Many of the new construction projects, like the one the Riviera is making way for, are oriented less toward old-school gamblers and more toward a younger generation looking for more social experiences. On Tuesday, just down the road from the Riviera, construction for Resorts World Las Vegas will break ground. Apart from a casino, proposals for the "Asian-themed" leisure-plex include a green rooftop promenade, an indoor water park, and a panda exhibit. In the spring of 2016, a concert arena from MGM Resorts International is slated for completion.
“There’s a trend here where the crowd is younger and wants to be outside, exploring without a planned itinerary,” Shant Apelian, a spokesman for MGM Resort’s new Delano Las Vegas, told the Dallas Morning News. “They want to socialize with strangers and share a collective experience.”
For the time being, one such experience could be watching Vegas' implosions, which demolitions expert Herb Duane calls “the greatest free show on earth.” The Riviera is set to go boom sometime this summer, and will likely draw plenty of crowds.