‘Undercity: Las Vegas’ Takes You Above And Below Sin City

Just last month, Gadling took you on a journey inside the world of urban exploration, bringing you on a behind-the-scenes look at the urban explorers who are inventing new ways of visiting the areas under, above and inside the cities we traverse every day. Today, we’ve got another intriguing look at the urban exploring phenomenon to share with you, courtesy of the short film series above called “Undercity: Las Vegas.”

Part of an interesting collaboration with shoe company Palladium, the film series follows the exploits of urban historian Steve Duncan, profiled in Gadling’s recent feature, along with director Andrew Wonder, as they investigate the subterranean water tunnels and unfinished construction sites that comprise the lesser-known side of this urban neon mecca of gambling and nightlife. In this particular clip, Duncan manages to sneak inside the as yet unfinished Fontainebleu Resort Las Vegas, climbing nearly 60 floors to take in an eye-popping view of the early Vegas dawn.

Though the trespassing on the construction site is clearly illegal, it’s an intriguing look inside the urban underbelly that few Las Vegas visitors ever see. Those interested in seeing the full film can head over to Palladium’s video hub to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this ongoing series.

Photo Of The Day: Moulin Rouge At Night

Today’s photo, by Flickr user Rob_Sanderson, is of one of the more (in)famous tourist landmarks in Paris: the Moulin Rouge. I love the long shutter exposure of Rob’s shot, which brings out the warm neon’s fiery reds, twinkling street lamplights and a whirling blur from of the club’s iconic windmill. The image gives off a feeling of wonderful nighttime energy and hijinks to come.

Taken any great travel photos? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Museum Month: The Neon Museum In Las Vegas, Nevada

When the plug is pulled at casinos, chapels, restaurants and other businesses, Sin City’s iconic art form – the neon sign – used to get sent to the scrapyard. That was until The Neon Museum, a 501c3 non-profit, began collecting and preserving these timeworn signs, ensuring the treasures won’t be forgotten.

Since 1996, volunteers have devoted their time to preserving the legacy of the disregarded signs of Las Vegas, keeping them in a dusty, three-acre lot dubbed the “Neon Boneyard.” Wander around and find dead casino marquees, unlit wedding chapel signs and bygone used car billboards scattered about like noodles in alphabet soup.

%Gallery-154843%Not only is the Neon Boneyard full of cool visuals, it also illuminates a side of Las Vegas history that many people wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to see. For now, travelers must make an appointment in advance in order to visit the Neon Boneyard. However, there are plans to open a bona fide visitor’s center in what was once the lobby of the La Concha Motel, a 1960’s curvilinear structure that almost fell victim to a bulldozer in 2003 until preservationists swept in and relocated the lobby to the Boneyard.

The team has worked to assemble an outdoor “gallery” of restored signs along the east end of Fremont Street, where visitors can check out nine once forgotten signs that have been restored to blinking glory. That gallery, which includes a lamp-shaped sign originally installed in 1966 at the Aladdin Hotel, is available free to the public 24 hours per day.

Photo of the Day (7.26.09)

Neon reminds me of roadtrips. The open road. A solitary roadside motel with a glowing neon sign, welcoming weary travelers like a beacon on a lighthouse. When I saw this neon photo by dizzylizzie129, taken in Taos, New Mexico, it had me immediately thinking about the open road. Aside from the warm glow of the blue and yellow light, I quite like this electric cowboy’s goofy grin – it has a real personality to it. I could easily imagine an encounter with this sign out on some lonely road, late at night.

Have any great travel shots you’d love to share? Why not upload them to the Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Band on the Run: Trippin’ in O’Hare Airport

Ember Swift, Canadian musician and touring performer, will be keeping us up-to-date on what it’s like to tour a band throughout North America. Having just arrived back from Beijing where she spent three months (check out her “Canadian in Beijing” series), she offers a musician’s perspective on road life. Enjoy!

One of the big things that travellers often worry about is how to stay in shape while going from plane to highway back to airport to waiting room to plane to highway, etc. There’s a lot of sitting involved in travelling, especially when you’re going long distances, and sometimes it feels to me (someone who likes to run as my choice of exercise) that I am completely sedentary and blob-like for far too long.

Unless, of course, I am routed through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL.

I’ve heard that this is the largest airport in North America in terms of square footage, but I’m having trouble supporting that with any source. Has anyone else ever heard that? I did learn that it is the second busiest airport in the U.S. and the second busiest in the world with over 76 million travellers through the airport in the year 2006. (source) Because so many flights come in and out of Chicago, there seems to be no logical reason for the placement of connections. They’re sometimes a full half-hour walk away and with delays, inclement weather and general O’Hare confusion, it’s not uncommon to miss one’s connection at this airport.

Even if you’re a runner.

This must be the largest airport in North America because I think I have walked the whole thing several times and I’ve had the blisters to prove it. I know now that being routed through Chicago will cure the “feeling-like-a-blob” blues. Especially today, when I had ten minutes to make it between terminal B and terminal C and had to basically run and walk at the same time while dragging my luggage and fellow travellers behind me.

There’s a causeway between these two terminals that amuses me. It’s designed like an eighties nightclub with neon tube lighting zigzagging across the ceiling and overall dim lighting in the tunnel to enhance their dance. They flip on and off like they’re on a slow strobe and the adjoining mirrors give the impression that there are even more lights going on than there are.

I know this is the airport’s attempt to install art in between the monotonous transfer between flights, but little did they know that they not only gave us a visual experience here, but they gave us a temporary exit from reality; an experiential gateway into what feels like another dimension.

An essential partner to this installation is the moving sidewalk that is installed here – two lengths of it – and perhaps you know what I’m talking about when I call these devices “trippy.” By this, I mean that it sometimes feels like I’m in another state of consciousness when I’m on them, especially if I’m also walking down them (not just letting them carry me) like I was doing today in my attempt to make the connecting flight. It is dream-like, as though you’re part floating and walking while also being swept across the floor towards the other end the way a camera zooms in and takes your eye with it without your consent.

Just head towards the light.

So put them together with the neon lights and it’s even more trippy. It suddenly makes me feel as though I’m under the influence of a reality-shifting drug and squashed into an all-ages travellers’ nightclub at which carry-on luggage is mandatory fashion. It was all I could do to stay focused and keep walking today without letting myself get lost in the colours.

I made it out the other side without disappearing into the illusion of it all, I’m proud to say. And, I also made my connection. The flight attendants with their colourful leis and big smiles had held the plane for the various delays that had already rippled their way across the entire airport. Our flight left about forty-five minutes after the schedule departure time, so I’m hoping that they also found the time to put our luggage on the same plane as our bodies. I guess we’ll find out when we land.

Maui, here I come.

I once had to stay overnight in Chicago because the President of your country down there had decided to spontaneously come to Chicago that day. This, of course, delayed all the flights (for security reasons) and made hundreds of people miss their connections. In fact, this was the information that we received from the Canadian aircraft that we were flying on because they had to delay their landing and do an extra loop around the city.

When we arrived at O’Hare, they told us that the delay was as a result of “inclement weather.” When I told these conflicting explanations to my friend in Chicago (who I phoned during my long attempt to find an alternative means home before giving up and heading for a hotel), she said: “The weather was perfect today here! And, yeah, the president was here too. They’re all such liars. They lie as easily about bombs as they do about the weather. What a joke!” I just sighed and didn’t feel any less helpless in the circumstance. I simply became part of a herd of discontented people forced to pay overpriced hotel fees and grumble under our breath about injustice.

(I did have some of the best vegan pizza that night that I’ve ever eaten. So, it wasn’t all that bad.)

Before the hotel decision, however, we had walked the whole of O’Hare airport being told to try various flights for openings to get us back to Canada. I believe that day that we walked a total of ten kilometres.

I think it was after that experience that I invested in carry-on luggage with wheels.

After O’Hare, I’m always happy to sit down again. Even if it’s in a plane while squashed into economy seating.

Now if only they could improve the lighting in the actual cabin. I’d love an optical illusion or two for such a long flight. I have many hours to go now.

Hawaii. Ten hours. Too much perfume. No vegetarian fare.

Where’s the flashing neon when you need it?