Like It or Not, Vegas is Coming Up
Vegas is kitschy and over the top, and at first glance it always looks like the least sustainable place on the planet. Vegas is acres of neon plastered across the front of 30-story casinos in the 100-degree desert – each casino more outlandishly upscale than the other – along with the occasional lake and 200-foot water fountain.
The thousands of attendees at the American Planning Association conference in Las Vegas this week like to say they hate all this stuff, and no doubt a good percentage of them will flee to the desert to tromp around among the spring wildflowers. But they'll definitely be missing out. Because after the latest building boom, there's no denying it: Vegas is the most rapidly evolving – and, in many ways, the most exciting – urban environment in America.
The Strip is the densest employment center in the West, and because many hotel and casino workers make modest incomes, Vegas has one of the fastest-growing transit systems in the country. Cities all over the country have dreamed of monorails, but Vegas built one. Thousands of people mob the sidewalks every day and night. Rich and poor live alongside each other – not always in a graceful coexistence, but in close proximity to one another.