The Las Vegas Strip as a Genuinely Invented Global Landscape

  • Daniel Ortega


Las Vegas, Nevada, is typically recognised as a place via a single urban gesture, that gesture being Las Vegas Boulevard, which is more commonly referred to as "The Strip". In constructing a thesis around the theme, "Here or There? Interconnections between the Global and the Local", one cannot ignore the invitation to discuss globalisation and its effects on a particular local fabric. For the purpose of this text, globalisation can be thought of as what Carmona et al describe as an intricate series of events leading to the world "becoming increasingly interconnected, with centralised decision making exploiting economies of scale and standardisation" (2003: 101). The centralised decision-making process for The Strip is evident in the strategy to develop individually themed casino resorts along Las Vegas Boulevard that respond to a competitive economy, thus creating a newly standardised landscape. If we also understand that globalisation can be thought of as the development of an interconnected world where economic, political and cultural boundaries can be easily crossed, this work can begin to define how the Las Vegas Strip is a genuinely invented global landscape. This paper addresses the "here-ness" as well as the "there-ness" of The Strip, while offering a dialectical framework for establishing a meaning of place by having 'there' placed 'here'. By employing semiological interpretations of real landscapes from around the globe (for example, Venturi et al, 1972), The Strip becomes a newly invented landscape of "simulations" (Baudrillard, 1988). As such, The Strip acts as a narrative that forms a unique place, opening the door to questions of authenticity and identity. This paper concludes by focusing on the question of "Here or There?" as an appropriate deviation from the assumed role that the post-modern landscape of the Las Vegas Strip plays. This work is intended to be a point of departure from the frequent criticism of the Las Vegas Strip as simply an 'invented' space and focuses on the potential of this constructed landscape for providing a genuinely positive, place-based experience that focuses on the interconnections between 'here' and 'there'.
Short papers presented at the 2004 CELA