clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Las Vegas now

Nearly a decade after the housing crisis, a changed city is emerging

From the neon signs that advertise its casinos to the excesses on offer inside, Las Vegas is known for flash. Though the city came to occupy its corner of Southern Nevada for practical reasons (most importantly, proximity to a spring), Las Vegas’s planners and developers have long had grand ambitions when it comes to design and aesthetics. They’ve hired starchitects to craft buildings and allowed a high-profile CEO, Zappos’s Tony Hsieh, to attempt a large-scale remake of downtown.

These moves have drawn attention. Less talked-about are the city’s efforts to recover from the financial collapse nearly 10 years ago: Planned buildings remain unfinished (or never began construction in the first place), homes sit vacant, and residents struggle to find affordable housing.

As Las Vegas continues to experiment with solutions to these problems, and simultaneously with innovations in energy and transportation, a new city is quietly emerging.

In these stories, we dive into Vegas’s recent attempts at citymaking, from the failures, like Norman Foster’s demolished The Harmon, to the successes, like the big casinos’ little-known attempts to become more sustainable and the city’s efforts to house its homeless population.

As Las Vegas moves ahead in solar energy, autonomous and electric transportation, and walkability, what’s happening in Vegas might not stay in Vegas—soon it could be happening in cities everywhere. —Sara Polsky

Courtesy of Mandalay Bay

Vegas goes green

In the sprawling, fast-growing desert city of Las Vegas, where a dancing water fountain is a big tourist draw, “green” is more suggestive of dollar bills than of a governing philosophy. But the city known for excess is learning to manage its resources.

Read the story.

Las Vegas is learning from us

In a place with no rules, why is the Strip trying so hard to be just like the boring city you left behind? Curbed’s Alissa Walker walked the entire Strip to find out.

Read the story.

A new approach to housing Las Vegas’s homeless

In the last few years, Las Vegas has consistently ranked in the top 10 among large U.S. cities in per-capita homelessness rates. City officials are turning to creative solutions.

Read the story.

Chris Mueller

Starchitects in Sin City

Works by globally renowned architects—you know, starchitects—might seem to fit in well with Vegas’s need for novelty, but starchitecture has been closed, dismantled, or just generally dwarfed by Vegas’s endless construction. Can high-profile architecture survive in Las Vegas?

Read the story.

Keeping Las Vegas moving

Las Vegas moves the equivalent of a Super Bowl’s worth of people every weekend into and out of the 4.2 mile-long Strip. For most of its existence, Vegas’s transportation infrastructure simply struggled to keep up with the pace. But as the city continues to grow, it has had to start to change its ways.

Watch the video.

A public art tour of Las Vegas

Greater Las Vegas grew thanks to highways, and those desert roads have shaped its public art aesthetic. Many artworks seem designed to be viewed from a moving car, and in fact the signage and neon along U.S. Route 91 and Fremont Street are a cornerstone of the city’s outdoor visuals. This map is a Las Vegas public art loop.

See the map.

Writers: Ed Fuentes, Patrick Sisson, Alissa Walker, Mimi Zeiger

Photographer: Chris Mueller

Editor: Sara Polsky

Copy Editor: Adrian Glick Kudler

Photo Editor: Audrey Levine


How to Avert the Next Housing Crisis


The Neighbors Issue


Can a Neighborhood Become a Network?

View all stories in Longform