In Las Vegas, old and new stand in strong juxtaposition

  • Two men peer at the directory at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and The Palazzo, left; and water fountains at Esplanade at Wynn Las Vegas, right.
  • A street scene from Old Vegas, left; and a detail of a Chanel store at the Esplanade at Wynn Las Vegas.
  • Gondola Rides at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • A Jeff Koons sculpture at the Esplanade at Wynn Las Vegas, left; and Manolo Blahnik shoes also at the Esplanade, right.
  • Detail from a Las Vegas casino, left; and from a Las Vegas gift shop, right.
  • The Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, left; and a private party at Mandalay Bay.
  • An empty strip mall behind Circus Circus, left; and a view of The Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, right.
  • Las Vegas details, September 2014.
  • The Clarion Hotel, left; and a watch display window at the Esplanade at Wynn Las Vegas, right.
  • A lone beer bottle at Circus Circus.
  • A restaurant reservation phone at the Esplanade, left; and a detail from the Circus Circus gift shop, right.
  • View from the Mandalay Bay parking garage, left; and a detail from the Circus Circus gift shop, right.
  • A building where a Payless Shoesource used to be.
  • Freemont Street in Old Vegas, left; a detail from a Vegas gift shop, right.
  • A street scene from the intersection of S. Las Vegas Blvd and Garces Ave., left; and the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and The Palazzo, right.
  • The Clarion Hotel and Casino, now closed and being auctioned off, left; and the Trump International Hotel, right.
  • Valet parking at the Wynn Las Vegas, left; and a Las Vegas street scene at night, right.
  • The intersection of S. Las Vegas Blvd. and Garces Ave., left; palm trees, right.
  • Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas.

of

Updated

Las Vegas, Nevada, is a city known for its all-hours glitz and glamour. But, until recently, that neon-lit facade hid a city hard hit by the collapse of the housing bubble and the recession. Investment properties in the state’s most populous city stood empty while tourists continued to flood the newer, more popular hotel-casinos.

As the economy has strengthened, the country’s gambling capital has seen construction return, clearing away its crumbling past to make way for glistening new developments.

Residents are revitalizing the commercial real estate market in the city, which is filled with vacant buildings and abandoned construction sites left stagnant after the market collapsed. Local business is thriving once again, and, in April, unemployment rates were the lowest they’d been since 2008. 

The cycle of boom and bust continues as newer developments, such as the flashy entertainment and retail complex Downtown Summerlin, take the spotlight and old attractions, like Circus Circus, fade away.

As part of its downtown revitalization efforts, the city’s Redevelopment Agency contributed funds to the renovation of the three-block area known as the Fremont East Entertainment District, which opened in 2007. The goal was to attract additional non-gaming nightclubs, cocktail lounges, and entertainment hot-spots to the area. And in 2010, demolition began to make way for a new City Hall and mixed-use office building downtown. The project promised to create more than 13,000 jobs and to provide more than $4 billion in investment to the area.

Those new developments have made room for a population that has more than doubled from 258,295 in 1990 to 583,756 in 2010, according to statistics from the city.

Emiliano Granado traveled recently to Las Vegas to document the changes there – contrasting old hotels and casinos with sparkling new towers and the esplanade at the Wynn Hotel.

“Vegas is surprising in its evolution, how it mirrors the rest of society’s quest for luxury. It’s huge, bold, obnoxious, loud, drunk, poorly dressed. Yet everything seems to be chasing luxury,” Granado said.

“Vegas’ constant evolution is where the focus of these photos is: The literal destruction of the old to make way for the new, the socioeconomic divide between different Vegas experiences,” he added.

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography 

Speak Out