[see images below]
I first noticed the Riviera was abandoned during my trip to Arizona on a long layover in Las Vegas just after Christmas 2015 while staying at the Circus Circus.
"No lights on? Hmmm." I immediately started investigating. Turns out it was closed down in May 2015 and was scheduled for implosion. I started doing recon ever since, including 2 separate trips to check things out. But security was heavy as it was on the strip and cameras were still on surrounding the building.
Both times I visited they had a demo crew going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 2 O'clock in the morning? Yea they were still going. Apparently they wanted this thing gutted and imploded ASAP.
I could imagine, in Vegas, every hour they are not working is money not being made since they are making way for a new addition to the convention center.
My first attempt was on Memorial Day 2016, a federal holiday. But I was on my way back from Lightning In A Bottle in Cali and we missed our window due to how long it took to pack and leave the festival grounds.
Fast forward to July. We drove to Las Vegas with the hopes of exploring the infamous Riv. During our first walk-a-round the building I hopped up on a ledge near the fence to gain a better look, and immediately ran into a security guard who's exact words were, "don't even bother jumping over." Right where I had planned all this time that we would make our entrance. Damn.
We made small talk to see if I could get any more info. He said they upped the security due to people trying to shortcut from N Las Vegas Blvd to get to the Westgate Hotel. So we decided we would use that as an excuse if we got busted. He also did not have a gun or tazer. That was a plus.
We would eventually figure out a new way in; right on the main strip where all the traffic was! However, it was the area with the least amount of security guards, so it was our best shot. We were willing to risk a couple bi-standers seeing us. At this point there was no way we were not going to at least try.
This place has so much history. Frank Sinatra lived and worked here. Elvis performed here regularly as well. There were also a lot of mob related murders and suicides. The movie Casino was filmed here. The list goes on...
* The 3 shots I really wanted were:
- A shot of us in the abandoned outdoor pool area with the Riviera sign above. But that had already been demo'd AND completely removed. BUMMER!
- Another was a shot on the roof of the taller building where it has the main sign that read Riviera, but that building was completely wrapped in a thick plastic material to keep the asbestos from spreading once imploded.
- And lastly, I wanted to get some shots in Frank Sinatra's suite where he lived and worked and held extravagant parties for A-List celebs. But they had imploded that tower before we got there. TRIPLE BUMMER!
We did our best to get what we could, and at least we can say we got our own piece of it and were likely the last explorers to get such photos before it is gone for good. The best part was that we witnessed every fireworks display in Vegas from the rooftop of the Riviera! A day we will not soon forget.
Hope you enjoy.