Stefan Al joined Kai Ryssdal of NPR Marketplace to discuss his latest book tracing the architectural evolution of Las Vegas.


Kai Ryssdal: “Without taking anything away from the actual writing and the work that’s in this book, the cover and the front-end paper are amazing. Just these representations of the kinds of buildings, the places that were built on the strip, the scale. It’s a little bit archaeological. You know what I mean — going back to, like, 1941?”

Stefan Al: “Yeah and thanks for that. I actually designed the cover myself. So you know, I’ve literally come back into the archives and dug deep into the floor plans of all the individual casinos when they were first built. And there is a total of 42 really large casinos that were built over the 70-year period, since the Strip was founded. If you trace these, and if you look at the blueprints, if you look over time, there is a clear evolution. Sometimes, you know, casinos try something and then it fails. And then you see that reflected in the next casino. So there’s a very interesting natural evolution that occurs on the strip.”

Kai Ryssdal: “As the ’50s and ’60s came to pass, it incorporated this idea of gambling into suburbia, right? As Las Vegas grew and thus, sort of, incorporated sin and the American Dream all into one big thing.”

Stefan Al: “Yeah, I think this was really a fascinating period. So after the second World War, a lot of soldiers that returned from the war didn’t move back to the cities. They moved to the suburbs. So there’s a nationwide push for suburbanization. And this American dream that gets manufactured then, is the single-family home. It’s having your own pool. And this is precisely the image that developers then started to hijack. So they built these casinos [in] the shape of a bungalow on steroids with clean modern forms, but also with a pool. And the pool became a really important status symbol for resorts. And they competed with pools. So every new pool had more elaborate shapes. One of the pools, the most famous one in the Sands, had a floating craps table and poolside slot machines.”


Listen here ↓

The History of the Las Vegas Is the History of How We Vacation, NPR


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Desert Supply Company, Wikimedia Commons