When Beyond the Mafia first appeared in 1996 it was hailed as a significant contribution to the history of Las Vegas and of ethnic minorities in America. Author Alan Balboni traces the history of Italians in Las Vegas from the founding of the city in 1905, recording their activities in the fledgling settlement. As Las Vegas grew, Italian Americans participated in every aspect of the city’s society and economy, including construction, retail establishments, hotels, and—after the statewide legalization of gambling in 1931—the casino industry. Basing his research on well over a hundred interviews, as well as the records of Italian American organizations, public agencies, and other sources, Balboni has produced a sparkling and thoroughly documented account of the history of one of Las Vegas’s most progressive and productive ethnic minorities. This new paperback edition includes an afterword by the author that brings the story of Las Vegas’s Italian Americans up to the present.
The growth of Las Vegas that began in the 1940s brought an influx of both women and men looking to work in the expanding hotel and casino industries. In fact, for the next fifty years the proportion of women in the labor force was greater in Las Vegas than the United States as a whole. Joanne L. Goodwin’s study captures the shifting boundaries of women’s employment in the postwar decades with narratives drawn from the Las Vegas Women Oral History Project. It counters clichéd pictures of women at work in the famed resort city as it explores women’s real strategies for economic survival and success.
Their experiences anticipated major trends in post-World War II labor history: the national migration of workers during and after the war, the growing proportion of women in the labor force, balancing work with family life, the unionization of service workers, and, above all, the desegregation of the labor force by sex and race. These narratives show women in Las Vegas resisting preassigned roles, seeing their work as a testimony of skill, a measure of independence, and a fulfillment of needs. Overall, these stories of women who lived and worked in Las Vegas in the last half of the twentieth century reveal much about the broader transitions for women in America between 1940 and 1990.
Every year, more than thirty-five million people from all over the world visit Las Vegas; only two million call the city home. Everyday Las Vegas takes a close look at the lives of those who live in a place the rest of the world considers exotic, even decadent. Using broad research, including interviews with more than one hundred Las Vegans, Rex Rowley--who grew up in Las Vegas--examines everyday life in a place that markets itself as an escape from mundane reality.
Rowley considers such topics as why people move to Las Vegas, the nature of their work and personal lives, the impact of growth and rapid change, and interaction with the overwhelmingly touristic side of the city. He also considers the benefits and perils of living in a nonstop twenty-four-hour city rich in entertainment options and easy access to gambling, drugs, and other addictions. His examination includes the previously unstudied role of neighborhood casinos patronized by locals rather than tourists and the impact that a very mobile population has on schools, churches, and community life.
Rowley considers the very different ways people perceive a place as insiders or outsiders, a dichotomy that arises when tourism is a mainstay of the local economy. His work offers insights into what Las Vegas can teach us about other cities and American culture in general. It also contributes to our understanding of how people relate to places and how the personality of a place influences the lives of people who live there.
On Sunday, October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire from thirty-two floors above a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas Strip. The event left fifty-eight people killed, more than 860 injured, and thousands psychologically wounded. To date, this was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in the last seventy years. Despite the chaos and terror, first responders, concert-goers, and passersby aided victims and survivors. Nearby businesses, hotels, and the university provided safety and services. Medical personnel rushed to area hospitals. And as the scope of the tragedy unfolded, the people of Las Vegas flooded blood donation centers and offered food, water, comfort, and care. And they created a garden—The Las Vegas Community Healing Garden.
The story of the garden unfolds through photographs and the words of survivors, first responders, family members, medical professionals, counselors, and members of the community. In only a matter of days, volunteers and local businesses transformed a vacant downtown lot into a serene urban oasis. Families and friends of those lost in the tragedy soon adopted each of the fifty-eight trees planted in honor of their loved ones, and visitors left behind colorful mementos, including painted rocks, photographs, and ornaments, as well as words of encouragement, love, loss, and strength.
In the aftermath of 1 October, an often misunderstood city revealed its soul under the most heartbreaking of circumstances. The inspirational voices and stories from a community touched by tragedy provide comfort and encouragement. And the organic response to the unthinkable is a testament to how one community came together at its darkest hour, chose hope over despair, unity over hate.
The homeless men and women represented in this book speak candidly about their plight, its origins, and the many obstacles to escaping it. They discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that Las Vegas’s focus on tourism, indulgence, and diversion offers its homeless residents. This compelling and emotionally charged ethnography counters many of the stereotypes of homeless men and women, revealing the remarkable diversity of their circumstances. It also offers their perspectives on social services and civic attitudes toward homelessness.
Las Vegas, says William Fox, is a pay-as-you-play paradise that succeeds in satisfying our fantasies of wealth and the excesses of pleasure and consumption that go with it. In this context, Fox examines how Las Vegas’s culture of spectacle has obscured the boundaries between high art and entertainment extravaganza, nature and fantasy, for-profit and nonprofit enterprises. His purview ranges from casino art galleries—including Steve Wynn’s private collection and a branch of the famed Guggenheim Museum—to the underfunded Las Vegas Art Museum; from spectacular casino animal collections like those of magicians Siegfried and Roy and Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef exhibit to the city’s lack of support for a viable public zoo; from the environmental and psychological impact of lavish water displays in the arid desert to the artistic ambiguities intrinsic to Las Vegas’s floating world of showgirls, lapdancers, and ballet divas. That Las Vegas represents one of the world’s most opulent displays of private material wealth in all its forms, while providing miserly funding for local public amenities like museums and zoos, is no accident, Fox maintains. Nor is it unintentional that the city’s most important collections of art and exotic fauna are presented in the context of casino entertainment, part of the feast of sensation and excitement that seduces millions of visitors each year. Instead, this phenomenon shows how our insatiable modern appetite for extravagance and spectacle has diminished the power of unembellished nature and the arts to teach and inspire us, and demonstrates the way our society privileges private benefit over public good. Given that Las Vegas has been a harbinger of national cultural trends, Fox’s commentary offers prescient insight into the increasing commercialization of nature and culture across America.
Las Vegas holds a unique place in the popular imagination and in the work of any number of contemporary writers of fiction. The fourteen stories in this anthology explore the multifarious personalities of America’s “Sin City” through the experiences of the dreamers and gamblers, the losers and the lost, who inhabit Las Vegas and confront its myriad attractions and disappointments.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Las Vegas was a dusty, isolated desert town. By century’s end, it was the country’s fastest-growing city, a world-class travel destination with a lucrative tourist industry hosting millions of visitors a year. This transformation came about in large part because of a symbiotic relationship between airlines, the city, and the airport, facilitated by the economic democratization and deregulation of the airline industry, the development of faster and more comfortable aircraft, and the ambitious vision of Las Vegas city leaders and casino owners. Landing in Las Vegas is a compelling study of the role of fast, affordable transportation in overcoming the vast distances of the American West and binding western urban centers to the national and international tourism, business, and entertainment industries.
The meteoric rise of Las Vegas from a remote Mormon outpost to an international entertainment center was never a sure thing. In its first decades, the town languished, but when Nevada legalized casino gambling in 1931, Las Vegas met its destiny. This act—combined with the growing popularity of the automobile, cheap land and electricity, and changing national attitudes toward gambling—led to the fantastic casinos and opulent resorts that became the trademark industry of the city and created the ambiance that has made Las Vegas an icon of pleasure.
This volume celebrates the city’s unparalleled growth, examining both the development of its gaming industry and the creation of an urban complex that over two million people proudly call home. Here are the colorful characters who shaped the city as well as the political, business, and civic decisions that influenced its growth. The story extends chronologically from the first Paiute people to the construction of the latest megaresorts, and geographically far beyond the original township to include the several municipalities that make up today’s vast metropolitan Las Vegas area.
Las Vegas in Singapore looks at the collision of the histories of Singapore and Las Vegas in the form of Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s two integrated resorts.
The first history begins in colonial Singapore in the 1880s, when British administrators revised gambling laws in response to the political threat posed by Chinese-run gambling syndicates. Following the tracks of these punitive laws and practices, the book moves into the 1960s when the newly independent city-state created a national lottery while criminalizing both organized and petty gambling in the name of nation-building. The second history shifts the focus to corporate Las Vegas in the 1950s when digital technology and corporate management practices found each other on the casino floor. Tracing the emergence of the specialist casino designer, the book reveals how casino development evolved into a highly rationalized spatial template designed to maximize profits. Today an iconic landmark of Singapore, Marina Bay Sands is also an artifact of these two histories, an attempt by Singapore to normalize what was once criminalized in its nationalist history.
Lee Kah-Wee argues that the historical project of the control of vice is also about the control of space and capital. The result is an uneven landscape where the legal and moral status of gambling is contingent on where it is located. As the current wave of casino expansion spreads across Asia, he warns that these developments should not be seen as liberalization but instead as a continuation of the project of concentrating power by modern states and corporations.
This expanded edition is the perfect book for the southern Nevada-bound traveler or the armchair adventurer. The very name of the city conjures a collection of images: fun, excitement, escape . . . or, more concretely, mega-sized hotels and casinos, spectacular showrooms, theme parks, and marquees as large as office buildings lit with the names of the biggest stars. Las Vegas: The Great American Playground, illustrated with many fine historical photographs, traces the city’s history from its first Native American occupants more than 10,000 years ago to its present status as a premier tourist destination. It is the story of a group of colorful, enterprising individuals who made the desert bloom with undreamed-of possibilities.
The remarkable economic growth of Las Vegas between 1980 and 2007 created a population boom and a major increase in the ethnic and religious diversity of the city. Today, over 21 percent of the city’s population is foreign born, and over 30 percent speak a language other than English at home. The local court system offers interpreters in 82 languages, and in 2005/2006, for example, more than 11,000 people, originating from 138 countries, were naturalized there as American citizens.More Peoples of Las Vegas extends the survey of this city’s cosmopolitan population begun in The Peoples of Las Vegas (University of Nevada Press, 2005). As in the previous book, this volume includes well-established groups like the Irish and Germans, and recently arrived groups like the Ethiopians and Guatemalans. Essays describe the history of each group in Las Vegas and the roles they play in the life and economy of the city. The essays also explore the influence of modern telecommunications and accessible air travel, showing how these factors allow newcomers to create transnational identities and maintain ties with families and culture back home. They also examine the role of local institutions—including clubs, religious organizations, shops, restaurants, and newspapers and other media—in helping immigrants maintain their ethnic and religious identities and in disseminating national and even regional cultures of origin.More Peoples of Las Vegas adds to our awareness of the rich and varied ethnic and religious character of Las Vegans. In a broader context, it offers thoughtful perspectives on the impact of globalization on a major American city and on the realities of immigrant life in the twenty-first century.
Beneath the glitzy surface of the resorts and the seemingly cookie-cutter suburban sprawl of Las Vegas lies a vibrant and diverse ethnic life. People of varied origins make up the population of nearly two million and yet, until now, little mention of the city has been made in studies and discussion of ethnicity or immigration. The Peoples of Las Vegas: One City, Many Faces fills this void by presenting the work of seventeen scholars of history, political science, sociology, anthropology, law, urban studies, cultural studies, literature, social work, and ethnic studies to provide profiles of thirteen of the city’s many ethnic groups. The book’s introduction and opening chapters explore the historical and demographic context of these groups, as well as analyze the economic and social conditions that make Las Vegas so attractive to recent immigrants. Each group is the subject of the subsequent chapters, outlining migration motivations and processes, economic pursuits, cultural institutions and means of transmitting culture, involvement in the broader community, ties to homelands, and recent demographic trends.
From 1940 to 1989, nearly every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip employed a full-time band or orchestra. After the late 1980s, when control of the casinos changed hands from independent owners to corporations, almost all of these musicians found themselves unemployed. Played Out on the Strip traces this major shift in the music industry through extensive interviews with former musicians. In 1989, these soon-to-be unemployed musicians went on strike. Janis McKay charts the factors behind this strike, which was precipitated by several corporate hotel owners moving to replace live musicians with synthesizers and taped music, a strategic decision made in order to save money. The results of this transitional period in Las Vegas history were both long-lasting and far-reaching for the entertainment industry. With its numerous oral history interviews and personal perspectives from the era, this book will appeal to readers interested in Las Vegas history, music history, and labor issues.
Las Vegas was largely shaped by a handful of colorful and astute casino operators who turned a dusty desert town into the gaudy, booming holiday mecca that it is today. The essays in this book introduce us to these players. We discover how early leaders like Cliff Jones, Moe Dalitz, and Benny Binion first grasped Las Vegas’s potential as a center for high-stakes gambling, and we read of mobster Bugsy Siegel’s efforts to bring to reality another man’s dream of a glamorous resort-casino on a then-remote site at the edge of town. Other visionaries like Jay Sarno, Sam Boyd, and Jackie Gaughan helped turn casinos into the islands of fantasy, replete with lavish entertainment spectacles. The arrival of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes introduced a new style of corporate management --one carried on by Kirk Kerkorian and Steve Wynn to an industry previously led by independent entrepreneurs and their families. In preparing their essays, the authors consulted a wide range of sources and conducted interviews with many of the surviving players and their families and associates. The result is an engaging, highly informative account of a city’s growth through the visions, energies, and decisions of some remarkable gambler-businessmen.
Eugene P. Moehring analyzes the development of Reno and Las Vegas since 1945 with special emphasis on the years after 1970. Major factors that shaped the development of both cities were the growth of corporate gaming and megaresorts and increased personal leisure and affluence. Moehring provides an engaging, informative, and readable history of the divergent paths that Reno and Las Vegas took over the past forty years. Reno, the nation’s gambling mecca in the 1950s, led the way, developing the successful tourist economy that Las Vegas later embraced. Through the 1970s the two cities resembled each other greatly, but Las Vegas grew to achieve global significance, while Reno slowly declined, searching for new industries to power its future. Moehring shows that the development of the Las Vegas Strip was crucial to southern Nevada’s success. The casinos, hotels, and entertainments of the Strip, and the workers they supported, formed a new urban center ringed by offices, residences, shopping, and a major university. In effect, it became a third metropolis, governed by county commissioners, larger than Reno and Las Vegas combined.
Moehring brings the story of the three cities to the present day, examining lessons learned from the Great Recession and the efforts under way in all three metropolises to diversify their economies. Moehring makes an important contribution with the only current study of Nevada’s cities, focusing on urban development issues rather than social history or the gaming industry. As the service economy continues to grow, not only in Nevada but throughout the United States, Moehring’s work has many implications for urban studies and particularly the study of urban development in other metropolitan areas.
Resort City in the Sunbelt is a non-sensationalistic, scholarly account of Las Vegas from the building of the Hoover Dam to the construction of the MGM Grand Hotel. Historian Eugene Moehring provides a balanced view of the city’s urban development. Although a unique city in many ways, Las Vegas has displayed characteristics common to other sunbelt cities across the western United States—including underfunded social services, low-density urbanization with a heavy reliance upon automobiles, a sluggish response to problems within minority communities, a preference for efficient, business-like government, and a mania for low taxes. The gaming and resort aspects are fully considered, but Moehring emphasizes the city as part of the continually expanding sunbelt.
From this important study, historians will conclude that, despite some of its unusual traits, Las Vegas is much like other western cities and therefore deserves recognition as one of the fastest-growing centers in postwar America.
In a new and expanded epilogue to this edition, Moehring looks at the major events of the three decades leading up to 2000 and their underpinnings.
Today’s Las Vegas welcomes 35 million visitors a year and reigns as the world’s premier gaming mecca. But it is much more than a gambling paradise. In A Short History of Las Vegas, Barbara and Myrick Land reveal a fascinating history beyond the mobsters, casinos, and showgirls. The authors present a complete story, beginning with southern Nevada’s indigenous peoples and the earliest explorers to the first pioneers to settle in the area; from the importance of the railroad and the construction of Hoover Dam to the arrival of the Mob after World War II; from the first isolated resorts to appear in the dusty desert to the upscale, extravagant theme resorts of today. Las Vegas—and its history—is full of surprises. The second edition of this lively history includes details of the latest developments and describes the growing anticipation surrounding the Las Vegas centennial celebration in 2005. New chapters focus on the recent implosions of famous old structures and the construction of glamorous new developments, headline-making mergers and multibillion-dollar deals involving famous Strip properties, and a concluding look at what life is like for the nearly two million residents who call Las Vegas home.
On the Las Vegas Strip, blockbuster casinos burst out of the desert, billboards promise "hot babes," actual hot babes proffer complimentary drinks, and a million happy slot machines ring day and night. It’s loud and excessive, but, as the Project on Vegas demonstrates, the Strip is not a world apart. Combining written critique with more than one hundred photographs by Karen Klugman, Strip Cultures examines the politics of food and water, art and spectacle, entertainment and branding, body and sensory experience. In confronting the ordinary on America’s most famous four-mile stretch of pavement, the authors reveal how the Strip concentrates and magnifies the basic truths and practices of American culture where consumerism is the stuff of life, digital surveillance annuls the right to privacy, and nature—all but destroyed—is refashioned as an element of decor.
More than forty million visitors per year travel to Sin City to visit the gambling mecca of the world. But gambling is only one part of the city’s story. In this carefully documented history, Geoff Schumacher tracks the rise of Las Vegas, including its vital role during World War II; the rise of the Strip in the 1950s; the explosive growth of the 1990s; and the colossal collapse triggered by the real estate bust and economic crisis of the mid-2000s. Schumacher surveys the history of the iconic casinos, debunking myths and highlighting key players such as Howard Hughes, Kirk Kerkorian, and Steve Wynn.
Schumacher’s history also profiles the Las Vegas where more than two million people live. He explores the neighborhoods sprawling beyond the Strip’s neon gleam and uncovers a diverse community offering much more than table games, lounge acts, and organized crime. Schumacher discusses contemporary Las Vegas, charting its course from the nation’s fastest-growing metropolis to one of the Great Recession’s most battered victims.
Sun, Sin & Suburbia will appeal to tourists looking to understand more than the glitz and glitter of Las Vegas and to newcomers who want to learn about their new hometown. It will also be an essential addition to any longtime Nevadan’s library of local history.
First published in 2012 by Stephens Press, this paperback edition is now available from the University of Nevada Press.
Just beyond Las Vegas’s neon and fantasy live thousands of homeless people, most of them men. To the millions of visitors who come to Las Vegas each year to enjoy its gambling and entertainment, the city’s homeless people are largely invisible, segregated from tourist areas because it’s “good business.” Now, through candid discussions with homeless men, analysis of news reports, and years of fieldwork, Kurt Borchard reveals the lives and desperation of men without shelter in Las Vegas.
Borchard’s account offers a graphic, disturbing, and profoundly moving picture of life on Las Vegas’s streets, depicting the strategies that homeless men employ in order to survive, from the search for a safe place to sleep at night to the challenges of finding food, maintaining personal hygiene, and finding an acceptable place to rest during a long day on the street.
That such misery and desperation exist in the midst of Las Vegas’s hedonistic tourist economy and booming urban development is a cruel irony, according to the author, and it threatens the city’s future as a prime tourist destination. The book will be of interest to social workers, sociologists, anthropologists, politicians, and all those concerned about changing the misery on the street.