John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The once mobbed-up hotel and casino can’t be protected from an expanding convention center.
The Las Vegas Riviera hotel and casino was once a bastion of mob activity—the “Chicago Outfit’s crown jewel in the desert,” according to one historian—but it’s proving no match for the terrible force known as a convention-center expansion project.
Early Tuesday morning, crews triggered explosives in the resort’s Monaco Tower, reducing its 24 stories to billowing dust and rubble in seconds. Its second Monte Carlo tower is scheduled for demolition later this summer. Once a good place to catch Frank Sinatra, Liberace, and Barbara Streisand, the site will soon be suitable for attending credit-management expos and law-enforcement reunions as part of the city’s revamped convention center.
The “Riv” is just the latest Vegas landmark to meet an explosive demise. When it shuttered last spring, CityLab’s Laura Bliss reported:
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….
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.
Here’s footage of the legendary building dying Tuesday, proving that in today’s society nothing is sacred from jackasses with laser pointers: