The Riviera’s implosion is the latest in a decades-long history of showy detonations.
It is the best kind of magic trick. One minute there is a building, a tower, a monument to stacked chips, spilled drinks and dreams dashed or fulfilled. The next there is nothing. With the push of a button, a self-contained world becomes rubble. This summer, the Riviera, former home of Liberace and those famous Crazy Girls posteriors, was the latest casino to go boom in a pair of carefully engineered demolitions. But the tradition of detonating our former haunts dates back more than 20 years to 1993, when a crowd of about 200,000 watched 365 pounds of dynamite turn the Dunes to dust, its neon sign still shining and the words “No Vacancy” splashed across its marquee. In the years since, implosions have become a beloved local tradition, an only-in-Vegas spectacle that celebrates the city’s constant evolutionary march toward what’s new and next. The Landmark’s toppling was famously captured for the film Mars Attacks in 1995. The Hacienda fell under a hail of fireworks on New Year’s Eve 1996. In 2007, the New Frontier announced its own death with glittery fireworks on the building’s facade counting down to zero. Crowds often cheer when a casino crumbles, but just as thrilling as the symphony of explosions and the crash of concrete is seeing what rises from the ashes.
PhotograPhy by SaM MorrIS / LaS VEgaS SUN (StardUSt); StEVE MarCUS / LaS VEgaS SUN (FroNtIEr); aaroN MayES/LaS VEgaS SUN
(aLaddIN); JohN gUrZINSKI/aFP/gEtty IMagES (rIVIEra); CoUrtESy oF LaS VEgaS NEwS bUrEaU (LaNdMarK, dUNES, CaStawayS)