Thursday 15 January 2009

Howdy Podner!

A raffish cowboy welcome to Sin City. An unsophisticated image with a lewd wink, an upturned thumb and a mis-shapen cigarette wedged between the lips. Inside the card is a lavish display of buildings devoted to amusement and pleasure. The object of the exercise is to lose enormous sums of money to enable the casino operators to make a return on their investment in contemporary architecture and some of the largest neon signs in existence.

Architectural styles pioneered in California such as Coffee Shop Modern followed the highway across the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas as California based entrepreneurs took full advantage of relaxed Nevada gambling laws. These images include examples from some of the masters of these mid-century styles such as Wayne McAllister, architect of El Rancho Vegas, the Desert Inn and the Sands Hotel, the latter, a spectacular exercise in Late Moderne. The Hotel Flamingo was designed in California Modern style by George Vernon Russell; the client was Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, noted LA mobster of fond memory. The Flamingo opened in December 1946 and closed in February 1947 having lost a colossal sum of money in a very short time. There was more bad news for Siegel four months later when a bullet in the back of the head that exited through his eye socket, brought his life to an end at the tender age of 41.

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