Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Happiness in Vegas?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    7

    Happiness in Vegas?

    I'm a planning master's student, and I'm planning a Spring Break vacation to Las Vegas, largely because I am a fan of desert landscapes, the Rat Pack, and Hunter S. Thompson. But before booking any plane tickets or hotel rooms, I started looking around online for info about Las Vegas's urban history. Of the opinions I read, it seems like many planners and architects found the place unbearable, either because they found it too artificial or because they thought it wasn't friendly to pedestrians.

    So, I'm curious to find out if any of you, who think about cities all the time, have gone to Vegas, and what your feelings about it were. Is the city fun enough to override the fact that it is so artificial? Or did the planning problems that exist there dampen the fun? It would help me figure out whether to take my trip somewhere else.

    If there is an old thread on this subject, please let me know.

  2. #2
    I could tell you my opinion, but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas Actually, the last time I was out there, about a year and a half ago, the one thing I noticed when I was sober (which was a short period of time) was the amount of development going on. Subdivisions are going up left & right. It is one of the fastest growing areas of the country. The opportunities for sprawl are endless out there

    As far as your trip, there is no question about whether to go or not. IT'S VEGAS!!!!
    In the beginning there was nothing...then Chuck Norris Roundhouse kicked that nothing in the face and said "Get a job". That is the story of the universe.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    9,893
    I make the trip to Vegas every year for ICSC. I spend all of the day at the convention and most of the evening in my hotel room. I am one of the planners who finds it to be a miseable place. When I visit a city I want to feel its history and enjoy a long walk through neighborhoods. You won't get any of that in Vegas. The public environment is designed to get people into the casinos. Nothing else. Where there are sidewalks on the strip, they are packed with sleazeballs trying to get you to some strip club, hire a stripper or escort, or take a drive out of town. Actually, if you do go to Vegas, you probably should take a drive out of town. It is not far to Zion. I think there is a train that goes up to Grand Canyon.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian urbanchik's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Detroit, MI
    Posts
    120
    Vegas is Vegas! it is an awesome place to visit, even for someone like me who doesn't gamble, doesn't have the money to see shows, and dislikes the Nevada desert. People watching is fantastic and there is so much to see and do on the strip.

    My sister-in-law lives there so I have spent time in the city and the neighborhoods are pretty much what everyone says. Lots of sprawl, gated communities, cookie cutter homes, etc. She has neven known any of her neighbors. But you don't go to Vegas for the neighborhoods - it isn't New York, Chicago, or Seattle. You go there for the scene, nightlife, and food!

    In my opinion, the desert landscape isnt too attractive in Vegas. The desert in Arizona is much more beautiful. But I did check out Red Rock Canyon (30 min. west of the city) and it is kinda cool. The Hoover Dam is also worth checking out. If you wanted to visit some really beautiful desert places in northern Arizona or southern Utah (Zion and Bryce are absolutely stunning), it is only a couple of hours by car.

    So in all, not a place I would ever live, but we look forward to short visits every year. I personally can only handle about 3-4 days there before I go nuts.

    Have fun!
    urbanchik

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by urbanchik View post
    But I did check out Red Rock Canyon (30 min. west of the city) and it is kinda cool. The Hoover Dam is also worth checking out. If you wanted to visit some really beautiful desert places in northern Arizona or southern Utah (Zion and Bryce are absolutely stunning), it is only a couple of hours by car.

    So in all, not a place I would ever live, but we look forward to short visits every year. I personally can only handle about 3-4 days there before I go nuts.

    Have fun!
    I agree. Red Rock Canyon is pretty cool, and Hoover Dam is very interesting. You can see water marks on the rocks where the levels used to be-- about 100 feet above current water levels. Major water supply issues out there! I think I would probably die if I stayed in Vegas more than 3-4 days. The body can only take so much...
    In the beginning there was nothing...then Chuck Norris Roundhouse kicked that nothing in the face and said "Get a job". That is the story of the universe.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Planning Fool's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Northern, VA
    Posts
    242
    I'm going to Vegas next week for a bachelor party, hopefully I'll return safe & sound and there'll be no evidence that can be used against me in the future.

    Like Urbanchik said, it's a great place for people watching and just enjoying all the action going on along the strip. I'm an a NYC native, so I enjoy the city that never sleeps type atmosphere.

    I have to admit, once you get out side of the strip and visit some of the residential communities, it's not so nice to look at. The climate creates a lot of issues for developers when it comes to greenspace and aesthetics.
    Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. :-o
    - Yogi Berra

  7. #7
    Quote Originally posted by Planning Fool View post
    I'm going to Vegas next week for a bachelor party, hopefully I'll return safe & sound and there'll be no evidence that can be used against me in the future.
    Forget it man, you are in for trouble. Trust me ENJOY...
    In the beginning there was nothing...then Chuck Norris Roundhouse kicked that nothing in the face and said "Get a job". That is the story of the universe.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    The Fox Valley
    Posts
    4,611
    Blog entries
    1
    Never been to Vegas, although from what I've seen and heard, it's residential areas and quality of life are pretty horrid, especially from a planner's perspective. When looking at Las Vegas as a place of vacation, though, it has quite a variety of entertainment options and things to do, and I think there's something for everyone. You just have to go there with a "I'm here to have a good time and relax" attitude, I guess.

    When looking at it as a place to live, I don't understand why someone would want to move there, especially considering the crime, housing costs, sprawl, lack of history/community, water problems, pollution, mob ties, etc. Sure, I guess it has a thriving economy and job market, but so do a lot of other places.

    So, I guess to answer the question posed by the thread, I guess you can find happiness in Vegas if you're a tourist or a businessman or a single person looking for a job and a good time, but if you're someone interested in a good, healthy place to raise a family or even to retire, I don't know if Vegas is your best bet at happiness.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  9. #9
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916

    Happiness depends on the individual...

    Practically every form of development imaginable is planned, being built, or has been built in Las Vegas. There are isolated islands of urbanism:
    [HTMLhttp://www.sullivansquarelasvegas.com/][/HTML]
    That one is intended to recreate the feel of an established urban neighborhood. They are even going to the trouble of restricting the retail to locally owned indy businesses. No chains. Too bad it will only be a few buildings next to the 215 freeway. I visited the sales office, located in an office park far from the site. The models look nice, and they claim they're selling briskly.
    How about a faux European village:
    http://www.ddg-usa.com/video/Village/Project.html
    They only recently started the ground breaking on this one. Its not far from where I live. It will include (now don't laugh) a recreated ruin of a town wall, of the type that were used for defense. But again, it has to accomdate the car, since that's the only way to get there. Beneath all those cutesy squares, plazas and storefronts will be parking.
    But what you really want to see is an Italian coastal village in the desert:
    http://www.lakelasvegas.com/
    It even has a replica of the Ponte Vecchio. They hold free concerts on weekends on a little stage by the water. Its quite nice, actually, but can be criticized, as many NU developments can be, as being Disneyesque. Celine Dion has a house near here, in one of the gated communities. This is actually in neighboring Henderson. Another one to see in Henderson is "The District" which is basically pricey stores and trendy restuarants with condos built over some of them. Its a nice place to walk around for a bit, but you can only walk to the neighboring Green Valley Ranch casino.
    But for something that really gives urban designers and architects wet dreams, you have to see this:
    http://www.citycenter.com/
    http://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/citycenter.htm
    It is the largest privately funded development going on in the US right now, maybe the world. You want walkable? You want density? You want imaginatively designed public space? You want LEED buildings? A big budget for public art? Its all there. The construction goes on 24 hours a day. The sales office is a very cool modern building right on the strip, and you can go in for the very slick presentation they give. Some noted architects are involved. You've got to have "signature" buildings for a project of this caliber. Apparently they believe there are enough wealthy people in the world to have buyers for all those condos.
    But apparently you can't have just one "center" for a city of this size. Under construction at the south end of the strip is "Town Square", which is of a more traditional form. Reminds me of City Place in West Palm Beach. I'm not including a link because the only site I found was really slow to load.
    But wait! Yet another "center":http://www.hiriselv.com/indexhtml.php
    The old downtown isn't missing out on the action either:
    http://www.vegastodayandtomorrow.com/61acres.htm
    Not much of this is there yet, but it is supposed to be moving along. There are several condo projects downtown as well. Maybe eventually it will reach the critical mass it needs to be a vibrant, attractive, and safe downtown.

    There are also numerous condo high-rises going up around the strip, though many have been canceled due to poor sales.
    I think I'd like to live here: http://www.lasvegashirisecondos.com/condos/loft5.rub These are under construction.

    Yes, much of Las Vegas is really awful strip commercial and tract home development, but so are most cities I've seen in the southwest. And as you can see, all that is changing. So what do you think? Will these seeds of urbanism spread as the city redevelops, or will they remain isolated islands?
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered
    Oct 2006
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    4

    Vegas or Bust

    As a preservation architect, I thought I would hate Vegas for its superficiality and lack of soul, not to mention that it's in the middle of the desert. But actually, I love it for exactly what it is. If you enjoy lounging by a pool, watching beautiful people, and eating & drinking at chic establishments, it's definitely worth going at least once. Vegas is a great place to pretend you're somebody else for a few days.. someone classier and richer.

    Every city has a history, it just depends on how much of that history is evident. While it's true that even the vintage megahotels from the Rat Pack era are just about gone, there are aspects remaining aspects of the original city in the downtown area in some of the older casinos. But you just can't go in to Vegas expecting to view it like a traditional urban American city. That was never it's nature.

    By the way, the Hoover Dam is amazing, awe-inspiring, and definitely worth the journey. And I keep hearing about a neon sign museum (which is more like a big parking lot full of vintage neon signs) that I hope to get to one of these days.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    1

    more on vegas

    My sister lives there and I recently spent a month with her. Most of vegas is soCal in the desert, but there are some great neighborhoods near the strip and downtown that are still walkable. Built in the 50's and 60's they are slowly becoming more popular and young couples are buying up the ultra cool slab-on-grade homes right out of the rat pack. There is great potential for downtown to redevelop into a cool multi-famly residential neighborhood. Currently there are HUGE numbers of condos going up along the strip, but the urban design and super blocks are so huge I don't think they will ever turn into anything other than islands in the desert of casino crap. Have a great time, enjoy it like Venturi.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    District of Columbia
    Posts
    2
    Having grown up in Vegas, I can say that it is what inspired my interest in urban planning and development. The non-tourist area magnificently illustrates the tension between the "American Dream"-an affordable cost of living through a decentralized, suburban, car-centric atmosphere-on the one hand and a well-planned, appealing urban environment on the other. Since Las Vegas epitomizes the former, I have spent much of my time learning about the latter, which I find much more appealing. Even so, it is sometimes hard to argue with those who choose an affordable cost of living made possible by cheap land and lots of roads.

    The tourist area is a mix of gaudy and ersatz attempts at producing interesting places. Through concrete and plaster, it makes people feel rich and, for even a few days, spend like they're rich. The evolution of Las Vegas shows the amazing ability of the place at continually changing to wring out an extra buck. Perfect capitalism.

    It's a place of extremes and of extreme tension.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,581
    Vegas is amazing because it is a man-made oasis in the middle of a harsh desert, not because it is a well designed city. I enjoyed my visit there. Would I live there? Not in a million years.

  14. #14
    jzt83's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Pasadena, CA
    Posts
    21
    I personally thought Vegas was a cool place to visit for just one day just to gawk at the gaudiness of the place . But I don't like to gamble and don't care much about nightclubs and such. If you like to gamble and really like nighclubs and such, you might love it.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Asheville, North Carolina
    Posts
    20

    Cities in the Wilderness

    Read Bruce Babbit's Cities in the Wilderness- great overview of how they managed to create a pseudo growth-boundary with the help of the endangered species act- yea for the tortoise!
    as for vegas... food is good as a ploy to get you to stay- aside from that it really is one of the most disgusting, wasteful cities I can imagine. Some desert oasis.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Jakarta, Indonesia
    Posts
    1
    Sorry if this is a bit late.

    You may want to read Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi. It's an old book from the 70's. A classic reading on post-modernism. Venturi was amazed (in a positive way! And from an architecture/urban planning point of view) by the artificiality of Las Vegas.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    10
    I love Vegas--and go there once a year for a mini-vacation; it's the only place I can wear my vintage red leather pants and 3" dangle earrings! This is an old thread but want to mention for anyone going to Vegas that the Boneyard Tour (Neon Museum) is wonderful! The rescued old neon signs are fascinating and there is history around each of them.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    Posts
    4,166
    I recall reading a few years ago that while 'sprawling' (as in growing fast), metro Las Vegas, NV (NOT 'NM'!) has a very low 'sprawl factor' (as in 'the development is very compact and contiguous to other existing development') - there is no leapfrogging unsewered big lot spreading out like is common in the midwest, east and southeast. Reason - water. Water must be piped in and thus anything but compact, contiguous development is cost-prohibitive.

    Also, a lot of the Las Vegas, NV area growth has been fueled in the past couple of decades by people and businesses fleeing California and its stifling levels of regulation and taxation for the much more welcoming Nevada versions.

    That said, does anyone have more recent numbers and other info on the effect of the debt crisis on the area?

    How is that redevelopment of the former Union Pacific downtown yard area coming along?

    Mike

  19. #19
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2005
    Location
    In my own little bubble
    Posts
    2,561
    I disliked Vegas. Apart from the tackiness (which i can handle) i just dont like the idea of gambling 24/7. Someone told me while i was there that only three or four companies own the casinos on the strip, which makes me think- why bother gambling there?

    Maybe the problem was i wasnt drinking enough...
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Happiness tanking at 44?
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 9
    Last post: 18 Mar 2008, 11:13 AM
  2. Designing for happiness
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 1
    Last post: 28 Aug 2005, 5:04 AM
  3. Vegas, baby Vegas!
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 33
    Last post: 14 May 2005, 11:36 PM
  4. Happiness in grad school?
    Student Commons
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 21 Mar 2005, 4:37 PM
  5. Happiness is a Warm Gun
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 9
    Last post: 27 Jun 2003, 8:54 AM