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Something else the Romans conquered in Vegas: shoppers. Forum Shops, first on the Strip, mark 25 years

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The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, one of the world’s priciest pieces of real estate, are celebrating their 25th anniversary.
(Forum Shops)

The Roman Empire remains a powerful force in Las Vegas. It’s shoppers, not soldiers, who rule as new stores join the already impressive ranks.

How much revenue does shopping bring to Vegas? According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the average visitor last year spent $230 on shopping purchases. The 2012 figure was $259.

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

In early 1992, workers were putting the finishing touches on the Forum Shops. It was the Strip's first full-scale shopping center.
In early 1992, workers were putting the finishing touches on the Forum Shops. It was the Strip's first full-scale shopping center. (Las Vegas News Bureau)

The shops continue to draw serious, upscale shoppers and browsers. First-timers will delight in the animated statues and the ever-changing skyscape on the scenic ceiling.

The theme befitting a Roman emperor continues to fit with the long-established motif at the adjoining Caesars Palace. Most notably, the center redefined Las Vegas as not only a gambling mecca but a destination for shopping and dining.

Fans greet Arnold Schwarzenegger as he arrives at the Forum Shops in July 1994.
Fans greet Arnold Schwarzenegger as he arrives at the Forum Shops in July 1994. (Las Vegas News Bureau)

The center contains more than 160 businesses. Seventeen original tenants remain, including Gucci, Versace and Louis Vuitton stores and the Palm and Spago restaurants.

The Fall of Atlantis fountain comes alive several times a day with a show featuring animatronics and other special effects.
The Fall of Atlantis fountain comes alive several times a day with a show featuring animatronics and other special effects. (Forum Shops)

As the silver anniversary is celebrated, new signage was put up on Las Vegas Boulevard. A marquee – 85 feet tall and 41 feet wide – features LED technology that can be programmed to create everything from an ancient Roman gateway to a modern fashion runway.

Images created by Nathan Myrhvold, who describes himself as a photographer, chef, scientist and author, are displayed at Myhrvold’s gallery at the Forum Shops.
Images created by Nathan Myrhvold, who describes himself as a photographer, chef, scientist and author, are displayed at Myhrvold’s gallery at the Forum Shops. (Modernist Cuisine Gallery)

Four new tenants are joining the celebration: workout apparel company Lululemon, a gallery selling Disney-themed art called Magical Memories, the food and photography Modernist Cuisine Gallery and the Otheroom, a wine bar with locations in New York and L.A.’s Venice neighborhood.

The three-story spiral escalator at the Forum Shops is the only conveyance of its kind in Las Vegas. People lined up to ride it following its launch in October 2004.
The three-story spiral escalator at the Forum Shops is the only conveyance of its kind in Las Vegas. People lined up to ride it following its launch in October 2004. (Forum Shops)

Two additions over the years have more than doubled its size, from 283,000 to 630,000 square feet. Like many of its competitors, Forum Shops welcomes guests 365 days a year.

Grand Canal Shoppes

The Forum Shops’ success led the way for other themed shopping centers at resorts along the Strip. At the Venetian, the Grand Canal Shoppes opened in 1999, offering guests an opportunity to float past stores in gondolas.
The Forum Shops’ success led the way for other themed shopping centers at resorts along the Strip. At the Venetian, the Grand Canal Shoppes opened in 1999, offering guests an opportunity to float past stores in gondolas. (Grand Canal Shoppes)

It took seven years for another resort to open its own themed mall. In 1999, the Grand Canal Shoppes arrived at the Venetian-the Palazzo.

Beyond the dozens of stores and restaurants, the big attraction was, and continues to be, the canal that runs down the middle of the mall. Visitors can glide from one end to the other aboard gondolas — yes, with singing gondoliers.

Miracle Mile Shops

The Miracle Mile Shops, formerly known as Desert Passage, are a string of more than 200 stores and restaurants. They stretch for more than a mile behind the Planet Hollywood resort.
The Miracle Mile Shops, formerly known as Desert Passage, are a string of more than 200 stores and restaurants. They stretch for more than a mile behind the Planet Hollywood resort. (Miracle Mile Shops)

Close on the Venetian’s heels, Desert Passage opened at the Aladdin in 1990. The shopping center and the resort have since changed names; the Miracle Mile Shops now are connected to the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino.

Put on some comfortable walking shoes before venturing inside; the mall is more than a mile long, with 200-plus businesses.

The Shops at Crystals

Opened in 2009, the Shops at Crystals is the Strip’s newest upscale shopping experience.
Opened in 2009, the Shops at Crystals is the Strip’s newest upscale shopping experience. (The Shops at Crystals)

The arrival of CityCenter in December 2009 brought Las Vegas’ newest shopping experience. The Shops at Crystals — it was simply called Crystals until it was sold about a year ago — brought yet another opportunity for well-heeled Vegas visitors to spend money somewhere other than in a casino.

There’s plenty for the average visitor to drool over while window shopping; jewelers display necklaces and watches selling for more than half a million dollars.

One of the original tenants at Crystals, Louis Vuitton still has a presence with its expansive store. It’s one of the French retailer’s seven locations in Las Vegas.
One of the original tenants at Crystals, Louis Vuitton still has a presence with its expansive store. It’s one of the French retailer’s seven locations in Las Vegas. (The Shops at Crystals)

Other resorts also have their own, smaller shopping districts. They include the Grand Bazaar Shops outside Bally’s, and Via Bellagio at Bellagio.

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