Las Vegas is a study in contradictions. The glitz and the glamour of the famous “Strip,” serves as a symbolic backbone, bisecting the neighborhoods that flank each side and cling for support while at the same time distancing themselves behind walls made of concrete block and trees, all in an effort to find normalcy in daily life. Yet, normalcy in Las Vegas, where neighborhood groceries and the local bar & grills’, ring and flash with the music and lights of slot machines, differs slightly from other cities and towns.
We are a city that originated from “sin” and through time has struggled with the identity that sets us apart from all others. Yet, it is this overtly (albeit morally reluctant), exploited image that is the key to all this city has achieved and ultimately to our continued success.
Amidst the artificial skyline of a plaster castle, glass pyramid, shrunken landmarks, and the facade of ancient Rome, we struggle with budgets to support the infrastructure that delivers our basic services. For the adventuring tourist, we are an oasis of unlimited bounty, where water cascades down the sides of synthetic rocks and dances in the air to music with as much abundance as the champagne and alcohol that flows from the bottles and taps of the countless hotel restaurants, bars, and lounges.
Las Vegas is a brightly illuminated neon contrast to the subtle and natural majestic beauties of the surrounding Mojave Desert, alive with colored rocks and indigenous plants that struggle under the extremes of winter’s freezing cold and summer’s blistering heat for survival. Big Horned Sheep wonder freely, along with the wild burros and horses that are decedents of the working animals that helped the early settlers of this once desolate valley create a livable environment.
An environment that once had springs of crystal clear water that bubbled up from natural lakes far below the earth’s crust, now capped by well heads and nearly drained. Sand and rock once speckled with sparse desert plants and reptile creatures, have given way to ribbons and large pads of asphalt and concrete dedicated to the transport and temporary storage of modern vehicles. A spider web of pipes crisscross beneath the surface of the valley floor, taken for granted, as they deliver precious commodities, such as water and gas that is key to our survival, and remove our waste. We have tamed a once wild river and exploit its resource almost beyond recovery. We have learned to control nature by channeling its monsoon flood waters.
We have moved forward from a time when we worked in harmony with nature to current day where science and technology dominates our every minute of life.