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Castles Made of Sand

One thing I've noticed since I began researching Macau's exploding casino industry is that there is an immense amount of conflicting information about Macau's casinos on the internet.

One might think that something so simple as a map would be a great way to get ones Macau bearings straight when figuring out which end is up. Pair the massive growth of Macau's casino industry with the not-so-hot skill level of Macau webmasters, you end up with quite a bizarre array of locations for landmarks that should be indisputable. Figuring out where exactly Venetian Macau is being built took about 4 hours or research.

When the VT team goes about drawing maps of casino locations (check out the 15 or so we did for the FeltJungle destination guides) we usually start with satellite photos from Google Earth and work backwards from there, occasionally smoothing a road for clarity or to fit some text in better. We try and keep this "off roading" to a minimum. With Macau, the illustration of roads, buildings, locations and even water is completely in flux, mostly because the land mass itself is an evolving entity.

Macau has a long history of reclaiming land from the sea to facilitate urban expansion. As a result, Macau's land base has ballooned from a medium sized sliver of an island [1796] to a rotund and bulbous land mass with multiple marinas and reclaimed land banks [1996]. The current location of Wynn Macau, MGM Grand Macau, and the non-casino Stratosphere look-alike Macau Tower was underwater in the late 1980's. The recently opened Galaxy Star World casino in downtown Macau reportedly is "tilting." Whether or not this is caused by being built on reclaimed sea isn't clear.

Map from Encyclopedia Brittanica

In 2001, the area of sea that jutted between Macau's neighboring islands of Taipa and Coloane was reclaimed and called Cotai. Currently 4.7 square miles of Cotai have been reclaimed, and is now home of the burgeoning Cotai Strip and the Venetian Macau.

The above is a screenshot from Google Earth taken on July 16, 2007. Wynn and Sands Macau are both built on reclaimed land, and the entire Cotai Strip was underwater 7 years ago. It truly is a miracle (or dangerous, you choose) for engineers to reclaim land from the sea and use it to build a gigantic megalopolis of casinos. These truly are houses of cards built on sand... and everyone this side of 1967 knows that castles made of sand fall into the sea... eventually.


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