Vegas Casino Implosions: Relic of the Past?
By Neal Broverman
The bane of MGM Resorts and many in Las Vegas, the structurally-deficient Harmon Tower will soon meet its maker. But the tower's death will be a quiet one, especially compared to how Vegas used to rid itself of resorts past their prime.
The Harmon never had its day in the sun — it was part of MGM's CityCenter complex, a melange of towers, casinos, and hotels on the southern end of the Strip. When the giant, $8.5 billion project, the largest private commercial development in the nation's history, was being constructed in the late Aughts, it was found that many of the buildings were built incorrectly, but none more than the Harmon. Envisioned as a 49-story skyscraper, the tower stopped growing at 26 stories after county officials discovered faulty columns that could make it susceptible to collapse during an earthquake. The tower now looks finished, but in fact is empty, used as a giant billboard for MGM's other resorts and shows. A trial starts later this year to determine who is at fault in building the resort incorrectly; a judge decided to hold off on taking apart the Harmon until evidence could be gleaned for the trial.
The tower's death knell is inevitable, though. But unlike in the 1990s, when resorts like the Landmark, Hacienda, and Dunes (WATCH BELOW) were imploded for cheering audiences, the Harmon will be pulled apart floor-by-floor, mostly because it would be too dangerous to use explosives — it is still part of the CityCenter complex, which teems with tourists and employees (it's also kind of creepy in a post-9/11 world). There also seems to be less joy in Vegas for relishing in the destruction of the past.
"[The implosions] were events for the nation's evening news," Mark Hall-Patton of the Clark County Museum told the Los Angeles Times. "Crowds watched from lawn chairs, some people holding up numbered cards to rate the display, people saying, 'Well, there goes another piece of Vegas history.'"