Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getting Lost in Las Vegas

I got lost after dropping Tim off at the production office yesterday. It wasn't exactly the nicest area we started in, and I took the wrong route and ended up in a worse area.

I already have trouble with "the strip" area of vegas. I think it's a place where the 7 deadly sins are alive and well--and on sale! It's a place where 40,000 people a day (on average) go to pretend they're having fun and to do things that could potentially destroy their families. I am not opposed to everything on the strip--some of the shows are awesome, and if you've never seen a rainstorm in the middle of a mall, you're missing out. It's the purpose of the place I hate.

So when I came across the Moulin Rouge, I was shocked to find that I was immediately drawn to it. If you stay on the Strip, you'd never know it's there. But I was lost, and it snuck up on me. It's one of the few 1950s casinos that is still standing.

That might be generous. The place was a gorgeous ghost casino in the middle of a "less desirable" "low economic" area (um, maybe a slum?). There was this huge beautiful neon sign, in cursive, atop a low, sprawling building behind a fence and surrounded by two other buildings. I wanted to hop out and go exploring. Except the place was vacant, fenced, and in a scary neighborhood.

I looked it up when I got home. The Moulin Rouge was open for less than 12 months in the mid-1950s. It was the first desegregated casino in Las Vegas, and it was THE hotspot for entertainers at the time. Partly because many of them--Nat King Cole, the Mills Brothers, Harry Belafonte--were not allowed to stay on the strip, even if they did shows there, because of their race. So they and their white friend entertainers went where they Could all hang out and gamble and see shows and stay in an actual hotel together. It closed (probably due to financial troubles) the year it opened, but not before making mark for itself.

And, unlike many casinos that lasted much longer, it's still standing.

Someone needs to turn this place into a museum. Skip the gambling. Restore it and populate it like a living history museum, with actors portraying the great entertainers of the past century.

There is history to be had in Vegas after all, and I'm a sucker for a beautiful abandoned building.

1 comment:

Brooke said...

Cool discovery -- I had to go look up more information on the hotel as soon as I finished reading this post.

The Wikipedia entry on the Moulin Rouge Hotel has a nice image of the place. According to the article, several attempts to restore the hotel have been made, but they've all floundered. It's on the register of Historic Places, but who knows if it'll ever get used again . . .