A century and a half ago, Las Vegas — “the meadows” in Spanish — was an oasis fed by an underground spring. The spring dried up long ago, and Lake Mead, supplying 90% of the city’s water will follow. Yet in 2017, the city was the third-fastest-growing city in America.

People come to Las Vegas hoping that hard work guarantees a well-paid job and home ownership. But poverty and homelessness are on the rise. And in no other American city is the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor greater.

This series grew out of that tension. Against the man-made landscape, isolated figures struggle, the desert background a reminder of the optimism and sheer willpower it took to convert a mirage into a dream city — a living metaphor on the edge of a nuclear test site and environmental meltdown.
Some faces reflect giddy optimism, some self-satisfied torpor. Others sun- burned and tired, confess that for them the American dream is as dried up as the springs that once made Las Vegas green.