Vegas has always been an evolving city; where other large cities such as New York or Chicago honor their old buildings and take care in renovating them, Vegas has always been about the shiny neon, flashing lights, and boldest architectural moves that can be taken without being too gaudy. As a result of the mindset of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, buildings aren’t renovated, and are instead imploded (usually live on television) to be completely rebuilt as the newest, shiniest attraction.
Pictured above is the old Aladdin Casino, one of the 15+ casinos and hotels that have been erased from Vegas‘ history with a few well-placed stick of dynamite. Most casinos and hotels, when imploded, are quickly replaced with something new – like the former Boardwalk, which is now part of the high-fashion CityCenter project – a move that makes sense when you consider how incredibly valuable land is on the Las Vegas Strip.
The latest on Las Vegas‘ line up of kabooms is the Riviera hotel, a landmark of Vegas history. The Riviera opened it’s doors in 1955, and was the first high-rise resort in Las Vegas. Liberace himself cut the red tape, and became the first (and most profitable) resident performer.
Unfortunately, the Riviera had too many hotel rooms for what Vegas needed at the time and they went bankrupt just three months after opening. The casino was then taken over by a few managers at the Flamingo Hotel down the street, a move that was largely rumored to be a mob power play. As time went on, the mob rumors got louder and louder as the entertainment director was outed as the mob informant Willie Bioff, which led to his murder.
Despite it’s rocky start, the Riviera did phenomenally financially through the decades leading up to the late 2000s. Their performers were top-tier, even following Liberace’s passing. Included in their show roster was the risque show Crazy Girls, which ran for decades before being memorialized in bronze and moving to a more central casino location. The Riviera did a killing in comedy, magic, and talent acts, including Tom Green, Steve-O, Jan Rouven, and Frank Marino, and they had a monopoly in the pocket billiards competition world.
Despite their success, Vegas‘ curse of having to constantly stay fresh pushed the Riviera to the brink financially. In 2010, the Riviera surprised the valley by filing for bankruptcy, and it was only a few years until the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority purchased the building and land for a whopping $182.5 million.
It was just announced this week that the Riviera will be torn down in August, but there is no announcement yet about what’s planned to take it’s place. What would you like to see take it’s place, if anything?