In Las Vegas, old and new stand in strong juxtaposition
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.