VegasStrong after 1 October: Exploring Place Following a Mass Shooting

Authors: Rex Rowley*, Illinois State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Landscape, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Tragedy, Terror, Gun Violence, Sense of Place, place identity, Las Vegas
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Las Vegas, Nevada, is known worldwide as a tourist, gambling, adult entertainment mecca and as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. On October 1, 2017, however, the Southern Nevada city gained new notoriety as the location of the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Like so many places around the world affected by tragedy and terror, such horrifying events have deeply affected the Las Vegas community, and will likely have a permanent impact on how people live and visit the city. I combine landscape observation, content analysis of local news, and an examination of memorials to explore how place-based identity has played a role in the response to Route 91 Harvest Music Festival Shooting. More specifically, I discuss particular landscapes of response, optimism, memory, and adaptation in order to see how place has influenced and been impacted by the tragedy and subsequent recovery. By exploring the nexus between the city’s local and tourist identity and its response to tragedy, we can gain a unique view into this particular place and into place in general. It is often in the most difficult circumstances that a location’s sense of place is most clearly illuminated.

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