an member station

riv_door.jpg

Riviera door
Jeff Scheid

After 60 years anchoring the northern end of Las Vegas Boulevard, The Riviera is closing its doors.

Riviera Set To Join The Frontier, And Others In The Vegas History Books

After 60 years, the Riviera will close its doors for good on Monday.

The money-losing property was purchased for almost $191 million recently by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Plans call for the historic Las Vegas landmark to be torn down to make way for the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Veteran Las Vegas Review-Journal photojournalist Jeff Scheid spent several days photographing the property and created a series capturing the last days of the aging resort.

“When I go into an old casino, especially the Riviera I look at the lights,” Scheid said, “To me, it’s like the Sistine Chapel of casinos.”

It is not just the lights that decorate the casino but the people working in the soon-to-be-closed property that are the focus of his pictures.

One photograph features a pit boss watching a 21 dealer, who seems to be struggling. It is the forlorn look on his face that catches the viewers’ attention.

“Probably frustrated and thinking about how his days are numbered but he has to be focused on his work,” Scheid said.

He remembers photographing boxing matches at the resort when he first came here in the 80s and talking to legendary comedian George Burns, who was making a comeback on the Strip.

bar.jpg

Jeff Scheid

big_sign.jpg

Jeff Scheid

cashiers.jpg

Jeff Scheid

casino_floor.jpg

Jeff Scheid

chandilers.jpg

Jeff Scheid

circus_riv.jpg

Jeff Scheid

close_up.jpg

Jeff Scheid

club.jpg

Jeff Scheid

comedy_club.jpg

Jeff Scheid

doors.jpg

Jeff Scheid

front.jpg

Jeff Scheid

grass_pool.jpg

Jeff Scheid

icon_lights.jpg

Jeff Scheid

lights.jpg

Jeff Scheid

lights_lines.jpg

Jeff Scheid

lights_sign.jpg

Jeff Scheid

lights2.jpg

Jeff Scheid

man_walking.jpg

Jeff Scheid

neon.jpg

Jeff Scheid

nob.jpg

Jeff Scheid

pool_sunbathers.jpg

Jeff Scheid

pool_wide.jpg

Jeff Scheid

posing_butts.jpg

Jeff Scheid

riv_closeup.jpg

Jeff Scheid

riviera_sign.jpg

Jeff Scheid

roulette.jpg

Jeff Scheid

slots_door.jpg

Jeff Scheid

smiling_table.jpg

Jeff Scheid

star.jpg

Jeff Scheid

star_lights.jpg

Jeff Scheid

stars_rive.jpg

Jeff Scheid

strip_view.jpg

Jeff Scheid

table_dealer.jpg

Jeff Scheid

table_money.jpg

Jeff Scheid

woman_sign.jpg

Jeff Scheid

touching_butts.jpg

Jeff Scheid

1955_pool.jpg

LVCVA

Riviera pool 1955

2005_ribbon.jpg

LVCVA

Ribbon cutting 2005

butts.jpg

LVCVA

The iconic Crazy Girls sign - no ifs, ands or butts

liberace_riv.jpg

LVCVA

Liberace, a headliner at the Riviera

riv_marquee.jpg

LVCVA

The Riviera marquee

riv_outside.jpg

LVCVA

The old exterior of the Riviera Hotel-Casino

1982_joan.jpg

Joan Rivers
LVCVA

Joan Rivers perfomers at the Riviera in 1982

george_burns_1985.jpg

George Burns
LVCVA

George Burns at the Riviera in 1985

Vegas Seven magazine columnist James Reza grew up in Las Vegas and remembers going with his family to the showroom brunch at the Riv, as locals like to call it.

The Sunday brunch turned the showroom into a dining experience complete with ice sculptures, champagne fountains and a carving cart.

“It was a Vegas experience that kids growing up here got a chance to experience,” Reza said.

Reza said the Riviera was the first high-rise hotel on the Strip and was ultimately a jump forward for the whole city.

“It took Las Vegas into the modern era,” Reza said, “The Riviera vaulted us in to the 20th Century.”

While it brought something to the city, its departure takes something away.

“Every time a casino dies a little bit of Las Vegas dies with it,” Reza said. “Vegas is the future. You can’t look back. You can only look to the future”

When the doors close, 1,000 employees at the property will lose their jobs. One of them is Susanna Loli, who is a house-person runner.

Loli said they heard rumors almost every day that the resort was being sold, so when the latest one started to circulate they dismissed it.

“I worked 19 years almost every day we heard rumors,” Loli said.

Saturday will be her last day, which is something that is still surprising to her.

“We’re still in shock. We can’t believe it,” Loli said. “Riviera is my second home. I feel sad.”

Scott Roeben is the editor of VitalVegas.com, a Las Vegas focused website. He said the workers he spoke to are a lot more positive than you would think.

“The people in the casino industry are very resilient because you never know one moment to the next where you’ll be. You just go with the flow,” Roeben said.

Roeben answered one of the biggest questions surrounding the resort: where will the brass statue of the Crazy Girls butts being going?

The statue features the perfectly sculpted butts of performers from the Crazy Girls topless show at the resort. It is modeled after the famous “no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ or ‘butts’” advertising campaign for the show.

“The producers get to take it,” Roeben said.

Roeben said there was a dispute about whether the hotel would get it, but in the end the producer will take the statue.

In an email to KNPR's State of Nevada on Thursday, Roeben said the "Crazy Girls" show is "going to Planet Hollywood."

For Jeff Scheid, the closure of the Riv really means the end of neon, which to many, is a symbol of Las Vegas itself.
 

“This could be the last place on the Strip with neon,” Scheid said. “You start heading south and there’s no neon.”

Support comes from

Guests

Jeff Scheid, photographer, Las Vegas Review-Journal; James Reza, columnist, Vegas Seven magazine; Scott Roeben, editor VitalVegas.com; and Susanna Loli, house-person runner, Riviera Hotel & Casino.

More Stories

KNPR
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR
KNPR's State of Nevada
Now Playing
/
My Queue
Press Play to start audio

My Queue

Nothing Playing

Add some items to your playlist to play them.