How did Las Vegas become the gambling capital of the world, outstripping even Monte Carlo in number of visitors and amount of money spent? Answers could range from the concentration of casinos to the quality of the shows to the extravagance of the hotels and other concessions. But the reality, according to this excellent account by Daniel K. Bubb, was the development of an air transportation system that ensured people could reach the city with ease.
Landing in Las Vegas: Commercial Aviation and the Making of a Tourist City explores the manner in which the city of Las Vegas used the advancing technology of aeronautics and airlines from the 1920s to the present to support and even to make possible the rising tourist market in the city, especially its gaming industry. It focuses on the tight and complex relations between technology development, airline management, tourism, gaming, and building development.
Through this case study, we learn much about the important issue of commercial aeronautical policy in both a regional and national setting, as well as the incursion of international travel to Las Vegas in the 1970s. This is a significant area that has not received the attention it deserves, one that is becoming more important with every passing day. It also explores the nexus between politics, economics, and technology, and in doing so the author makes a genuine contribution to the scholarly literature, especially with the emphasis on the urban history and tourism aspects of this relationship.
Bubb approaches his subject in a narrative fashion, with a combination of chronology and topics defining the study. He makes an important contribution to the historiography of the American West by marrying the issue of air transportation, itself understudied by historians, with the issue of gaming and tourism. The result is a very helpful study that deals with a significant twentieth century development in the West and its relation to air travel as a means for its growth and development
Result is a work that speaks to several different audiences. The first is the regional history readership relative to the American West. The story is one that moves the study of western history from its preoccupation with the nineteenth century into the modern era. A second audience is urban history, where this book helps to unpack some of the key issues in modern urban history. A third audience is those interested in aerospace history, where the story of the technology and its use in modern America has great interest.