The Great Pyramid of Giza. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Temple of Artemis. The Statue of Zeus. The Mausoleum of Maussollos. The Colossus of Rhodes. The Lighthouse at Alexandria.
You might know them as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, that list of very cool things that every tourist of long — really long — ago just had to see whenever whatever passed for vacation time back then rolled around.
But what’s this with “ancient” wonders? Who said wonders have ceased?
Not us. In fact, we came up with a few modern-day, close-to-home wonders, ourselves.
So here, for your debating pleasure, are what we consider the Seven Wonders of Las Vegas, those marvels — and, in a few places, those ideas — that Las Vegas has, for good or bad, foisted on an unsuspecting world.
The showgirl is synonymous with Las Vegas, the very embodiment, as it were, of Las Vegas’ class, charm and general yowza appeal. Unfortunately, like those ancient wonders, showgirls are getting tougher to find these days, but we simply can’t imagine Las Vegas without ’em.
Wonders are, of course, one-of-a-kind things. So how can we leave the white tigers popularized by Las Vegas’ iconic magic duo Siegfried & Roy off of this list? Forget the statue of Zeus at Olympia. If you’re looking for wondrous beings to gawk at, the tigers are a great place to start. Although, come to think of it, so are showgirls …
Sometimes amazing, other times not so much, the Las Vegas buffet has inspired awe in scads of visitors. The proof: the camera-wielding tourists who feel compelled to photographically capture these gustatorial feasts to show to the folks back home. We’re not sure if Las Vegas invented the buffet — although we’d bet that it did — but Las Vegas did take the buffet to its wondrous apotheosis.
FOUNTAINS AT BELLAGIO
No, Las Vegas isn’t the first to offer tourists the sight of, as David Letterman might have once put it, undulating fluids. But nowhere else has the concept of jets of water dancing hypnotically to a classy musical score been turned into something quite as spectacular.
Word association: “Las Vegas.” Any Las Vegan worth his or her slot club card would offer “neon” no more than three words hence. The neon sign, Las Vegas’ preferred advertising medium since the town’s toddlerhood, is getting harder and harder to find in a world of computer-controlled, video-packed displays. But every time you see a flashing neon sign on a corner bar anywhere in the country, just try not to think: “Las Vegas.”
The ancient world may have had the Great Pyramid of Giza — which is, by the way, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that’s still standing, if you’re ever on “Jeopardy!” — but we’ve got Luxor, which we’d consider representative of that niche of American architecture we call “Sin City Moderne.” We’ve no doubt Luxor is what the Great Pyramid of Giza would’ve looked like if Thomas Edison had been born in 2650 B.C.
THE SLOT MACHINE
It’s easy to take the humble slot machine for granted, given that we locals see them literally every day. But think of it: a mesmerizing box of colored lights and spacey sounds that entices you to stop whatever you’re doing and feed into it a goodly chunk of your disposable income? Ancient peoples would have considered it magic. Or, maybe, a tool of the devil. Darned impressive, either way.