The New York New York Hotel and Casino opened in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 1997, bringing a sanitized and reduced version of Manhattan to the desert, at a cost of $485 million. Although the re-creation is necessarily limited in scope and scale, the attempt is impressive: dozens of landmarks are reproduced, including the Brooklyn Bridge, Grant’s Tomb, the United Nations Building Assembly Hall, Grand Central Station, and the Whitney museum. The casino’s version of the Statue of Liberty is built at one-half scale, standing 150 feet instead of the actual height of 305 feet; its Empire State Building stands 47 stories tall instead of 102. Winding through the faux cityscape is a “Coney Island-style” roller coaster called the Manhattan Express.
While the real New York, with its new “family friendly” appearance and profusion of billboards, franchised restaurants, and corporate chain stores is starting to resemble Las Vegas, Las Vegas’s New York tries to combine the best of the big city—landmarks, ethnic neighborhoods, nightlife, food, and shopping with the best Las Vegas has to offer: gaming and gambling.
New York is not the only city in town, now that Paris and Venice casinos have been added, and there are references to many other locales such as ancient Egypt and Rome, medieval Europe, and the rain forest. (The only thing missing is Las Vegas’s own history, given the destruction of legendary Vegas locales such as the original Sands Hotel.) Nonetheless, New York-New York creates the silhouette that is most confusing from afar, making Las Vegas the first city to contain sections of another city’s skyline.
Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, 1997/2005