Whether you're gazing slack-jawed at one of the Spearmint Rhino's dancers or taking in the Art Deco-inspired grandeur of the Smith Center, Las Vegas is full of beautiful sights. However, our city is also home to some of the most painful eyesores in America... and each one brings its own unique flavor of fail.
Everyone knows about the High Roller observation wheel, but did you know there was also supposed to be another, similar attraction on the Strip? The idea of competing wheels got off the ground in 2013, but while the High Roller went on to become a permanent part of the Vegas skyline, the other one, dubbed SkyVue, stalled at just two giant concrete pillars planted in the ground before financing ran dry. You can still see them towering into the sky in a lot across the street from Mandalay Bay. SkyVue was actually supposed to be the first phase of a London-themed resort, but the property is now for sale, so if you've got some spare cash, you can, you know, be the change you wish to see in the world… or at least here in Vegas.
Taking a zip-line ride down the middle of the Fremont Street Experience sounds like fun, right? Now imagine taking flight from a giant, multi-level slot machine named Slotzilla. Sounds amazing! The only problem is that this monstrous landmark takes up a lot of space, totally blocking the neon view of Fremont Street from not only the busy bar area east of Las Vegas Blvd, but also the circular dining room inside Oscar's Steakhouse at the Plaza.
If you don't count the Stratosphere tower, the tallest building in Las Vegas is the Fontainebleau... the only problem is that it never opened, and was never even completely finished. One of the most notable Vegas casualties of the Great Recession, the planned mega-resort got its plug pulled as soon as the economy tanked. The shell of the building now sits in darkness, like a large shadow in the middle of the colorful Strip. The best we can say for it is that the construction crane, which sat still on top of the building for years, was recently removed… so, yay?
The Harmon tower footprint
The Harmon tower was originally planned as part of the massive, modern CityCenter complex, where you can find the ARIA, Mandarin Oriental, and Shops at Crystals. However, there were construction flaws, and the high-rise was capped at just 28 floors, instead of the original 49. The building was finished, but ruled unsafe, and the public was never allowed inside. Years of litigation followed while the Harmon tower became the world's most expensive billboard -- with an advertisement for the "Zarkana" Cirque show wrapped around it. Finally, with the legal matters settled, the tower was demolished -- very slowly, piece by piece -- instead of with a fun, classic Vegas-style implosion. It soon became a hole in the ground, and today it's just an ugly patch of concrete with a fence around it.
Sahara Ave pretty much marks the end of the Strip and the beginning of Downtown. The city of Las Vegas decided to get all fancy about it, and put up a metal structure to straddle Las Vegas Blvd with a banner that read, "Keep The Party Going!" -- as if you were going to march straight from the Strip to Fremont Street on foot. Ultimately, the advertisement seemed more odd than enticing, and the banner eventually disappeared from sight... yet the metal skeleton that held it in place remains.
Drug stores… all… over… the… Strip
Everyone in Vegas hates these... except for the guy who just checked into his hotel room and forgot to pack shaving cream. It's not that we have an ideological problem with a place like Walgreens, but all these drug stores are a prime example of how the Strip is turning into one giant shopping center. Drug stores are taking up some of the most valuable real estate, with signs and marquees that rival the brightest in Las Vegas. The most glaring example was when the Treasure Island casino shut down its famous (and free) outdoor pirate show... and later opened a giant CVS right along the sidewalk.
The only thing sadder than an abandoned amusement park is an abandoned nightclub. ICE can be found on Harmon Ave, between the Strip and the Hard Rock resort. Usually when a nightclub shuts down, it's inside a casino and can quickly be replaced. Not this joint. It may have been ahead of its time with the DJ scene, but now it's a clunky mess of a building that sits alone at the corner of a busy intersection.
This work in progress… just continues to be a work in progress. The former site of the Stardust was going to be developed into a resort called the Echelon by Boyd Gaming. Then the recession hit, the project was put on hold, and the property was sold to a group of Asian investors who now plan to open it as a sprawling, Chinese-themed complex known as Resorts World. Work has been coming along slowly since the groundbreaking, but they promise to have the whole thing ready to go by 2019. Promise.
So many old motels
We actually love old Vegas motels. Unfortunately, a lot of them have become tired, ugly, and run-down over the years. Some have closed down, but their shells still linger in dilapidated condition, with their signs and marquees out front offering a retro taste of Vegas history. The Ferguson Motel Downtown is in rough shape, but is occasionally put to use for festivals and other Downtown events.
This ogre of a shopping plaza is in a prime location, hanging off the side of the Fremont Street Experience, but it's seen plenty of tenants come and go over the years, including a movie theater and Krave, billed as the world's largest gay nightclub. Even the fun Drink and Drag bowling alley and bar didn't stick around for long; a few businesses, including a retro toy shop and a Denny's, seem to do well, but there's always plenty of vacant units. However, the Neonopolis remains a great place for cheap underground parking.
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