Stripe errors say so much about Las Vegas, extra about America

Reinvention has always been the game in Las Vegas.

And we’ve seen many successful attempts to transform the city’s tourism landscape. However, many more failed or never got off the ground.

John Knott, executive Vice President and Global Head of Gaming for commercial real estate giant CBRE proposed projects and died before the foundation stone was laid.

“Most of the dreamers who come to this town have an idea and nothing in their pocket,” he said.

The list of proposed projects, which may sound good but have gone nowhere, is long, but includes: a London-style resort that was at times linked with the name of billionaire Richard Branson, the Addams Family Resort, a ride in the Stratosphere that would have put guests on a roller coaster ride down Las Vegas Boulevard.

There was also a plan to have a giant mechanical King Kong climb the side of the stratosphere with tourists in its stomach.

Two of these ideas came from legendary casino developer Bob Stupak, who built the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino.

“This is all stupak,” said longtime Las Vegas columnist and KNPR contributor John L. Smith. “It’s an amazing thing because a lot of these ideas are on the scrap heap of Vegas history.”

“This is all stupak,” said longtime Las Vegas columnist and KNPR contributor John L. Smith. “It’s an amazing thing because a lot of these ideas are on the scrap heap of Vegas history.”

Stupak’s attempt to get approval for the Titanic, a proportion of time based on the unfortunate cruise ship, sank.

There were also several plans for observation wheels. You actually had the supports in the ground before it was stopped. The one actually built is the high roller on the Linq.

“How many bikes did we see in town before Caesars built one?” Knott said, “We are not a two-wheeler city and we are certainly not a three-wheeler city. There are some questions about whether we are a unicycle city.”

Both Knott and Smith agree that when it comes to what is being built in Las Vegas and what is added to the pile of broken dreams depends on the money and who can access it.

“It’s the one who gets the money, who gets the drawing board, who gets the architects, and who can make this design that is one in a million,” said Smith. “The dreamers are many in Las Vegas, but the players are few.”

Knott says it has become a lot harder for the schemers to roll into town, make big promises, and leave without doing much.

“25 years ago every dreamer in the world came here as a sponsor,” he said. “It’s a lot more difficult today.”

“25 years ago every dreamer in the world came here as a sponsor,” he said. “It’s a lot more difficult today.”

Architecture critic and author Alan Hess said that the big money made by gangsters in the early days of Las Vegas allowed architects to design interesting resorts, attractions, and neon signs.

“These creative people had charter and they really took and ran as far as they could.” He said, “And created a real high-water mark in American architectural design in my opinion.”

In fact, he compares early Las Vegas to Florence during the Renaissance, where money, ideas, and talent came together to create amazing works of art and architecture.

For Hess, the sand was this high water mark.

“The Sands embodied the luxury, ingenuity and willingness to try new things that for me really embodied what Las Vegas architecture is all about,” he said. “It was just a beautiful piece of architecture.”

The architect TR Witcher teaches at the UNLV School of Architecture. He said the Bellagio wins best design for him based on what it says about the city.

“I think Bellagio best sums up what Las Vegas wants to be,” he said, “how it wants to see itself as sleek and stylish and kind of opulent but in a kind of accessible way.”

Both the Witcher and Hess believe that downtown and its attempt to be “real architecture” really missed what Las Vegas is really about.

“Las Vegas got lost in the city center,” said Hess. “It has lost its conviction of its own character.”

Hess believes Las Vegas needs a new Jay Sarno, who founded Ceasers Palace and Circus Circus, or a new Steve Wynn, to truly “capture and define” the future of Las Vegas.

“To me, the story of Las Vegas is that canvas in the desert for dreamers, schemers, and people who actually put some money on the table,” said Smith.

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