Life on the Las Vegas Strip

Two sides of a road in the middle of the desert. It sounds dull doesn’t it? But this is a overly simplistic description of the Las Vegas strip. Since its rebirth by Bugsy Seigel in the late 40’s it has continued to act as a magnet to many of the most weird and wonderfully overdone aspects of the American dream. In present day, locals and tourists mix under the flickering neon lighs as the tail-gazing bumpers of stretched-out limousines push each other along at 2 mph. Is the strip a slice of heaven or a slice of real life? Las Vegas strikes me as a microcosm of that afore mentioned American dream: A brightly neon-lit success albeit with a seamier underbelly of an ignored truth.

Each year the number of homeless and destitute families seem to grow more and more and in amongst the strip’s hawkers and walkers is where I find them. Huddled in shop corners, cardboard begging boards angled at an unending parade of tourist feet, they sit. Some glower, others look blankly at the passing trade and possibly at their own increasingly poorer odds of survival at America’s gambling table. The contradictions on the strip are as easy to find as the caring is skin deep. Residents and tourists gather to watch an medical EMT team at work from underneath a bridge and yet carry on past similar victims prone at their feet, lying on the pavement. And all the while the party music plays on, the lights on the slot machines shine and Batman and Elvis are costumes people wear for tourists and fancy dress parties. In promoting its excesses the strip is a magnet for all of those affected, both the good and bad.

These are just opening sketches though. This is a photographic work in progress. It’s my intention to go back to the Las Vegas strip and follow up this story of winners and losers. Please bookmark this page because ,as with any of the photo stories in this section, this is set to grow as I connect more directly with those affected by Greenspan’s economic miracle. That said, if you are reading this and would be interested in helping me document this story about the homeless on the Las Vegas strip or can in any way help please get in touch with me here on the site.


Mark Esper
April 2013

Status: Work in progress.
Prints: Selected Prints are available for online purchase.
Image Licensing: Mark Esper. All Rights Reserved.

Share this: