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Saturday, December 25, 2004

New York Times to Vegas: We Like You Better When You Try to Copy Us

In the past the New York Times has written Vegas articles that residents have taken to task as clich├ęd or single sided. The newspaper particularly seemed inclined to document corrosive effects of the city, which is more than reasonable. But in its National Special - American Dreamers: The Lure of Las Vegas, few other vantage points were offered in the numerous articles documenting the lives of various residents.

Sometimes though, if the story's main focus is more financial and less social, Vegas fares better. In Is There Life After Blackjack? Ask MGM, the NYT looks at the city's continuing evolution, with the MGM CityCenter as its main focus. (Also see Las Vegas Arts and Culture: MGM Mirage to Build New City Center)

Vegas has developed in a sprawling manner, with little geographic restrictions to prevent growth in the 516 square miles that make the valley floor (see SNRPC - Regional Facts for additional info.) And the city's relatively modern development has taken into account commuter traffic planning to the detriment of walking and mass-transit options.

Project CityCenter looks to counteract this broad development by constraining it between the Monte Carlo and the Bellagio. The project is touted as a massively integrated urban core, containing dining, entertainment, tourism and residential offerings, all in a relatively accessible manner. Being pedestrian friendly seems to be a main goal. But it will be interesting to see how far the MGM Mirage goes to integrate the project into the rest of the city. Casinos are built with the goal of keeping clients and customers in their property, with specifically-placed entrances for traffic and people. The joy of naturally evolving neighborhoods and cities is the often random and unplanned aspects that give these places character and personality. Will Project CityCenter be a city separate from the rest of Vegas or will it begin an attempt by large corporate enterprise to blur the edges where Vegas and corporate identity meet? For while casinos have always defined the city, the city has never reflected the look and feel of casinos in its residential and commercial development. It will be interesting to see if the "largest privately financed development project in the nation" will look outside of the strip for cues on what it should look like and offer the city that it will reside in.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at

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