Category Archives: Las Vegas

Hoover Dam

I took a 30 mile side-trip from Las Vegas to visit Hoover Dam.  What an incredible construction project!  I thought Las Vegas was huge in scale until I saw the dam!

Here is an aerial view of the dam, the Colorado River, and Lake Mead.  The red arrow is pointed to some cars to give you an idea of scale. (Many of these photos are from the internet.)

The dam was constructed to control the devastating flooding of California croplands and to generate electrical power.  It is considered to be one of the Wonders of the Modern World.

The dam is located on the state line between Nevada (left)  and Arizona (right) with a road that passes over the top of the dam.  Because the dam attracts so many tourists, the road became a bottleneck for local traffic. In 2010 an arched bypass bridge was constructed just south of the dam – another spectacular building project!

During the construction of the bridge when the arch was completed.

The dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936.  To build it, the Colorado River had to be diverted so a temporary bypass was created.  On the right in map below,  a barrier (red-orange) and the underground diversion pipes (lavender) are depicted.  The 4 pipes were 56 feet in diameter and, combined, measured 3 miles in length.

A section of a diversion pipe.

The dam was built with huge, steel-reinforced concrete blocks, constructed on site.  The base of the dam was thicker than at the top.

Molds were made for the blocks, they were filled with concrete, and when cured, another layer of blocks was constructed on top.

Diagram of the block construction.

The blocks were huge. (Maybe the size if a transport container.)  The concrete was delivered in big buckets.

Constructing the dam was one undertaking, the other was the infrastructure and housing for up to 5250 workers and their families.  A rail line was built across the desert to the site to bring in materials and supplies.  During the first summer, workers and their families lived in shanties and tents in up to 130 F temperatures.  The location was called “Rag Town” because rags were used to cover poles to provide shade. The following year, basic housing was provided nearby, a site that is now Boulder City.  Transporting thousands of workers from their homes to the site was accomplished with transporters carrying 150 men at a time.

Of the 5000 workers hired for the project, no more than 30 were black.  Native Americans were hired for scaling the sides of the canyon, very dangerous work. These workers dipped their hats in buckets of tar to harden them – the first hard hat.

This is a sculpture honoring the the Native American Scalers.

Two hydroelectric power plants exist at the base of the dam, one in Nevada with eight turbines and the other in Arizona with nine.  I visited the Nevada side.

 The power that is produced is part of a grid that provides electricity to neighboring states. This diagram shows the grid.

As I walked around the site and learned about the history and capabilities of the project, I got chills thinking about the human ingenuity and commitment it took to construct this dam, the same kind of ingenuity and commitment that it took to put a man on the moon.  Humans are amazing!

 

 

 

 

More Las Vegas

As I visited the Hotels, I became intrigued by some of the over-the-top chandeliers.  This one is in the lobby of the Bellagio.  It is made of numerous handblown glass forms by Dale Chihuly.

This grouping is in the Wynn.

Also at the Wynn.

This one is at the Luxor. It constantly changes colors.

For more spectacular chandeliers, click here.

As I deplaned at the Las Vegas airport, I was greeted by slot machines at the gate! In the 3 days I spent in the city, I encountered thousands of slot machines in casinos and other locations.  But I was not even tempted!

The CASINOS are multi sensory.  There is loud, rhythmic music, the racket of the slots, the ambient noise of people talking, the swirling, flashing and colorful blinking of the machines, and there is the smoke. At my hotel, it was a struggle not to get lost in the maze of the casino floor as I wandered through the forest of machines trying to find my way from the front lobby to the elevator to my room.

I decided that the correlation between smokers and gamblers is that they are risk takers!

I was attracted to some of the designs of the slots, my favorite ones where the wheels.

I only took in one show because there was nothing else that interested me for the cost of the tickets. (I’ve already attended two Cirque de Soleil performances in Orlando.) What did get my attention was a Bee Gees tribute performance, one of my favorite rock groups.  As a matter of fact, just a couple of months ago, I attended a performance in Woonsocket, RI, of another Bee Gees tribute group. The group in Las Vegas features themselves as the Australian Bee Gees and their performance in mimicking the sound, appearance, and attitude of the original members of the group was spot on. They would have made Barry, Robin and Maurice proud!

 

I spent an afternoon checking out an Arts District in downtown Las Vegas.  I was disappointed that I did not find much in the way of studios or galleries, but I did encounter quite a few murals.

I also visited the Fremont Street Experience, a four block long pedestrian mall and tourist attraction in downtown Las Vegas. The area is covered with a 90 foot high barrel vault that contains 12 million LED bulbs that provide for a continuous display of moving and flashing signage and designs. Looking straight up at the flashing lights can make one dizzy!

At the ground level are shops full of souvenirs and rhinestone embellished clothing, eateries, casinos, and entertainment establishments.  On the street are street performers, vendors, hawkers, and panhandlers. A zip line runs under the canopy along its length for the adventurous!

I was there in late afternoon and  got the sense that the place comes alive at night. During the day, there was not much going on other than people taking it all in.

While in Las Vegas I encountered impersonators looking for tourists to take their pictures for a “tip.”  That is why I photographed this Elvis from the back.

These young women wanted $10 each after to took a snap.  They were lucky to get $3.00 each!

That covers my few days in Las Vegas.  I enjoyed discovering the visual appearance and cultural vibe of the place. I’m glad I went, but I have no desire to return. Been there, done that! Next?

I will post about my side trip to the Hoover Dam in my next post.

Las Vegas Strip – WOW

I don’t gamble and I’m not a shopper. I came to Las Vegas for three days to see what it was all about. On my first day here, I discovered that the Strip is all about scale.  The hotel complexes are HUGE. The exteriors are GRAND and OVERSIZE and the interiors are VAST. Lobbies are GRANDIOSE, shopping corridors are LONG and WIDE, casinos are as LARGE as football fields. The spaces are OVERWHELMING and filled with HUNDREDS of people. High rise towers loom above in a BIG sky. The hotels are spaced at least a city block from each other and the major streets are ten lanes wide. And all of this is situated in a flat basin at 2000 ft. above sea level surrounded by Sierra Nevada Mountains about 35 miles away.

All hotels have casinos  (more in next blog) and most have several restaurants, a food court, a spa, wedding salons, many shops, convention meeting rooms, entertainment auditoriums, digital build boards flashing their entertainment, pools and health facilities. The Wynn has a golf course and New York New York has a roller coaster. There are medium priced hotels (under $100 per night) and very high-end, luxury hotels.

I stayed at the Excalibur Hotel with a medieval theme – I was not impressed with the architecture or decor, but it was convenient and comfortable place to stay. It is located at the southern end of the Strip. I was on the 28th floor looking north.

From my window I had a view of the Strip looking north. The main part of the Strip where hotels are located is about 5 miles in length.

This is night view I took from the internet. The replica of the Eiffel Tower is 2 miles away from where the photo was taken.

I satisfied my curiosity on my first day by traveling by bus and on foot up and down the Strip.  I took pictures of the hotels that have the most interesting exteriors and some of the interiors.

This is just part of the NEW YORK NEW YORK complex that fills an entire city block


Not only does PARIS feature a 1/4 size replica of the Eiffel Tower, there is also an Arc de Triumph and extensive wrought iron work canopies at the main entrance in an art nouveau style.

This is the LUXOR. The pyramid is much larger than it appears here.

The BELLAGIO is one of the most upscale hotel complexes.

This is the entrance portico for the Bellagio where there are five lanes for vehicles to drop off and pick up guests.

The Bellagio is famous for its water fountain show in the large pond in front of the hotel. (photo from internet)

The Bellagio has a huge glass enclosed atrium with a display honoring the Indian celebration of Holi, a Festival of Love. There are two 14 foot elephants with blankets made out of 20,000 artificial roses.

Caesars Place reflected in windows of high rise.

This is the canal in front of the VENETIAN. There is also a canal on this interior, second floor. I was very impressed by the extent that the hotel carried out the theme in its architecture and decor. It is large complex of buildings covering about 2 city blocks including a tower and bridge not included in my images.

This is the interior canal with a painted fake sky.

The Wynn hotel had a glass enclosed atrium with festive display made out of paper.

On the right is a sample of a delightful carpet design.

There were many corridors with mosaic patterned floors. This fellow is the official repairer of the mosaic floors.  Below is his inventory of mosaics.

More in the next blog post – stay tuned.