Thanks to Facebook I found a long lost friend that I used to visit in Biloxi. She was visiting Las Vegas with her husband and one night last week they went out for dinner and a Las Vegas adventure with me and my wife. After dinner we visited the WSOP and eventually ended up on top of the Stratosphere. I had not been up there in years. It was quite a different view than I remember.
The picture was taken with my cellphone so forgive the poor quality. It only does so well looking down from 109 stories above the road. This picture is looking south with the intersection of Sahara and Las Vegas Blvd at the bottom center of the picture. The thing I immediately noticed when I got up there was the Sahara being dark in the bottom left corner. Above that the Fontainebleau sits 70% finished but mothballed. At this point there are no plans to finish the Fontainebleau. All of the furnishings were auctioned off late last year. With the abandoned 68 story construction project the entire east side of the Las Vegas Strip cannot be seen.
On the west side of the strip there is the vacant lot that will allegedly one day be City Center North, one condo building and Circus Circus. In the distance are Treasure Island and Mirage. Five years ago this view was much better, today it is a sign of how bad times are in Las Vegas.
I have to go back to my belief that Las Vegas needs themes. A building that looks like a building in any other city does not belong on The Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas Strip needs pyramids, castles, Eiffel Towers and other silly stuff. Tourists can see the inside of a nice office building in almost every city. Not everyone comes to Las Vegas to see 5 star hotels and gamble with $25 minimums. The city and the casino owners need to realize that.
I found this list of casinos that never got off the ground on Wikipedia. I see lots of themes that I think would draw the working class to Las Vegas. Don’t you think a Harley-Davidson Hotel and Casino would do well here? I guess Treasure Island is the only one aiming at that crowd. It took MGM having to shed a major holding to get some innovative thinking back onto the Las Vegas Strip. Hopefully there will be more properties leaving the hands of Caesar’s and MGM in the future to bring some fresh thinking back into the city.
In 1989 Steve Wynn jump started the city with his themed Mirage. It was the first new Las Vegas Strip casino in nine years. In the next decade eleven casinos were built on the strip. The city needs something new, something crazy, to bring the next boom.
After spending about five hours on top of the Stratosphere I could not help but wonder what could be done to fix the city down below. I kept coming back to the same point. The city went all wrong trying to become a mini Manhattan. It is time to go back to the craziness that made the city such a great travel destination for all.
By the way the Stratosphere is a must see in Las Vegas. You can see the entire city from up there and everyone should go to the top when they visit. It is only $16 ($12 if you have a Nevada ID) and you can get an unlimited ride pass plus tower pass for $33. All of the rides are fun and if you have any type of height tolerance you have to ride Insanity. My wife would not but luckily one of my visiting friends would, twice.