Workers imploded the Clarion Hotel and Casino near the Las Vegas strip Tuesday, erasing yet another remnant of the freewheeling Vegas era of the 1970s and earlier. The Clarion became the first major demolition in the city’s iconic glamor and gambling district since 2007, when the Stardust Resort and Casino — whose neon sign was practically synonymous with the Vegas glory days — was brought down.
The Clarion Casino was constructed in 1970 and was first known as The Royal Inn, later adopting the name The Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel, when it was briefly owned by the star of The Debbie Reynolds Show, who is perhaps best known today as the mother of Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher.
Reynolds then sold the hotel to the World Wrestling Federation.
The Clarion was also known during separate periods as The Greek Isles and The Paddle Wheel. While it was never one of the premier properties in Las Vegas, the Clarion was one of the final reminders that Vegas was at one time a city of fortune seekers, the mob, and Howard Hughes, rather than the corporate-controlled, largely sanitized amusement park that the city is today.
Though demolition experts unleashed 4,400 pounds of high explosives on the the 12-story, 200 room building, the initial blast still wasn’t enough to bring the proud, old hotel to the ground. Even as most of the 45-year-old building lay in rubble, a single elevator shaft refused to give in, stubbornly remaining in place, waiting for high rollers and VIPs to climb aboard and ascend to nowhere.
But the only people interested in the elevator shaft were the demolition technicians trying to figure out how to bring it down.
With another explosion out of the question and a wrecking ball unavailable, workers used a “lasso technique” to bring the elevator shaft down, basically attaching cables to the sturdy structure and using cranes to simply pull it down.
The entire demolition of the Clarion Casino and Hotel took about 13 hours, as a result.
“Basically, the debris fell so fast, it choked the base of that tower and didn’t give it the opportunity to move, explained Thom Doud, a project manager with Controlled Demolition Inc., the company in charge of destroying the old hotel.”
All in all, 13 classic Las Vegas hotels have been demolished to make room for new, slicker, and more modern structures — six of them between 2004 and 2007 alone.
Video of the Clarion Casino implosion quickly circulated on the internet, and can be viewed on this page, above.
[Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]