Disney Monorail 50 Years

Monorail Archaeology 2011

Monorail Archaeology 2010

The Alweg Phenomenon

Alweg's Heritage in Las Vegas

Alweg Konzept in LasVegas

Goofy Spoofers

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Monorail Archaeology 2009



(zum deutschen Text)

One of the sleek and attractive Bombardier built trains of the Las Vegas Monorail Company. Photo Copyright by and Courtesy of The Las Vegas Monorail Company, 2005.

For details, operating hours, special offers and activities please see the official website of the Las Vegas Monorail .


Las Vegas Icon: Vegas Vic - Photo and Copyright Ludwig Cremer

Anyone who wants to understand Las Vegas as a modern phenomenon better, is advised to study the famous architectural treatise "Learning From Las Vegas" by Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour (here: Revised Edition, The MIT Press 1977, ISBN 0-262-72006-X).

It will enable critical spirits to look at Las Vegas as a metropolitan laboratory of architecture and city development and will unexpectedly teach tolerance toward a phenomenon that in many different ways tells us, what future is and will be like.


In 1991 Robert Venturi received the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. In his acceptance speech he said (see: www-pritzkerprize.com/venturi.htm): "Las Vegas, which I learned from via the perspective of Rome and through the eyes of Denise Scott Brown, where we could discover the validity and appreciate the vitality of the commercial strip and of urban sprawl, of the commercial sign whose scale accomodates to the moving car and whose symbolism illuminates an iconography of our time. And where we thereby could acknowledge the elements of symbol and mass culture as vital to architecture, and the genius of the everyday, and the commercial vernacular as inspirational as was the industrial vernacular in the early days of Modernism."

What better place to build a monorail based on the Alweg vision ...








The photos by LUDWIG CREMER on the left show "symbolic Las Vegas icons"  in the time before The Fremont Street Experience ( FSE; see: www.vegasexperience.com ) was opened in December 1995 to become another of the overwhelming Las Vegas attractions, featuring the Viva Vision, the "Biggest Big Screen on the Planet", introduced in June 2004. Since then "Vegas Vic" and other icons have become part of the FSE.



Las Vegas - From Dust to Future - Photo and Copyright Ludwig Cremer
LAS VEGAS - Constant change is future in the present - Photo and Copyright Ludwig Cremer
The Las Vegas Monorail offers many choices - anyone who so desires, can for example float from Happy Hour to Happy Hour! Photo Courtesy of and Copyright by The Las Vegas Monorail Company, 2005.



Press release from www.alweg.com

(based in Cologne, Germany)

 Deutscher Text

From Cologne-Fühlingen

to Las Vegas
Cologne’s technological past today successful abroad


Reinhard Krischer

© July 2004

 Reinhard Krischer is the author of the German book „Alweg-Bahn“, transpress Verlag, Stuttgart, 2003, ISBN 3-613-71209-1, and of the comprehensive internet pages www.alweg.com , that since June 2000 document the history of the Alweg monorail system in English and German.
The new Federal President of Germany, Horst Köhler, former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, said in his inaugural address, held on July 1rst, 2004, that Germany must become a land of ideas!
Good point !
But how does one get new ideas and how are they to become reality ?
To answer these questions it might be best to look at ideas that were once developed in post-war Germany, but that failed because of the still existing phenomenon today described in Germany as „a lack of innovative spirit“. Ideas abounded, but often they were forestalled by criticism from certain types of know-it-all experts or by narrow-minded bureaucratic objections. Those were and are only two elements that contribute to Germany’s chronic hostility toward innovation, but they are decisive elements that block the path of new ideas.
One of those old ideas, almost forgotten in its home-country, will as of July 15th, 2004, produce headlines and amazement in the American gambling metropolis of Las Vegas in the desert state Nevada. On that day the first part of a state-of-the-art monorail city-transit-system will be inaugurated. The basic technology concept of this system was developed in Germany during the 1950s and 60s.
Annually 36 million tourists visit Las Vegas and many of them go there by car. To better control the traffic problems created by this permanent onslaught and to fight growing air pollution hazards, it was decided to build a metropolitan rapid transit system whose most important stations are the famous hotel-casino giants that draw the tourist crowds. Instead of crawling by car or bus along the legendary “Strip”, visitors (and the huge numbers of people working in the city) can now glide in airy height from “highlight” to “highlight” with an ultramodern monorail.

No longer do the tourists travel to Las Vegas to just gamble away their hard earned money or to see one of the many famous shows featuring the superstars of the entertainment world. Apart from the casino landscape Las Vegas now also offers a disneyesque world of adventures with replicas of ancient architectural wonders, erupting volcanoes and pirate attacks. Even sophisticated cultural tastes are catered to, - the art collection of the Bellagio hotel-casino is larger than that of some art museums in far away “Old Europe”.

Already in 1995 the hotel-casino giants MGM Grand und Bally’s had afforded themselves a private 1,6 km long monorail connection. Two sleek monorail trains that had previously seen service in the Disneyworld©-Park in Florida offered a very popular shuttle service between these two famous Las Vegas institutions for the hotel and casino guests.
The success of this monorail service convinced the city and its leading business establishments to construct an extensive double-beam, fully automated monorail as a metropolitan rapid transit system. Construction of the completely privately financed 6,4 km long line began in August 2001. The international Bombardier Company of Canada, that had already built the last generation of the in America well known and beloved Disney monorails, received the order to develop modern computer controlled monorail trains for Las Vegas.
In „Old Europe“, particularly in Germany and there especially in Cologne, hardly anyone still remembers today that the first Disney monorail trains and their beam-way were constructed in 1959 under the guidance of engineers of the Alweg Company from Cologne-Fühlingen - from whom Walt Disney had bought license rights - in Anaheim in California.
The Alweg Company, founded in Cologne in 1951, publicly introduced its monorail concept on its test-site in Cologne-Fühlingen for the first time in 1952. The Alweg monorail at once made headlines worldwide. At the time it was hoped to revolutionize the railway industry because the Alweg system would need less space, construction time, costs and maintenance than the conventional two-rail railroad. But back then there already appeared in Germany what today is described as this “lack of innovative spirit”. No one had enough courage or vision to give the Alweg monorail a chance. Not even the City of Cologne, in whose suburb Fühlingen this much acclaimed monorail system was developed and tested till 1967, recognized its potential.
Just as the German Maglev train „Transrapid“ today, the Alweg monorail had to go abroad to demonstrate what it could do. So Alweg reference lines were built in 1961 in Turin, Italy, and in 1962 in Seattle, USA (where one of its two trains reached its one millionth mile on March 12th of this year and where the plans for a city-wide monorail system are progressing fast). In the Disney-parks in California and Florida the monorails are still successful and popular and in the Disney-park in Tokyo an extensive monorail line was put into service in 2001. The international Japanese Hitachi Company had bought license rights from Alweg in Cologne at the beginning of the 1960s and since then builds state-of-the-art monorails in Japan, China, Singapore and soon in Indonesia. In Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur a locally developed monorail based on the Alweg concept is also successfully in operation since 2003.
So the development of the Alweg monorail, technically described as „a rubber-tired straddle-beam monorail“, and its technology concept - today used by the now opened Las Vegas Monorail - originated in 1951 in Cologne-Fühlingen. A look at the sleek and futuristic trains of the Las Vegas Monorail and its airy beam-way show that this monorail concept, almost forgotten in its home-town, will now at last receive the long overdue recognition it really deserves. In Las Vegas it demonstrates what it is capable of and how elegantly it fits in a modern cityscape. Line extensions of the Las Vegas Monorail, e.g. out to the airport, are already in the planning.
It is a long road from the Fühlingen Alweg test-site of the 1950s and 60s to Las Vegas in 2004. And one gets the impression that an analysis of this road could show causes that might help to explain, how the German Federal Republic of the days of the “economic miracle” that was so full of ideas was mismanaged into today’s condition necessitating urgent social and economic reforms.
A comparison of the original Alweg vision with the features of today’s Las Vegas Monorail clearly shows what the Alweg Company had already futuristically developed during the 1950s: a rapid transit system that would decisively ease inner-city automobile traffic. Its decisive advantages, when weighed against conventional two-rail systems, are its independent beam-way in the so called second traffic level above streets and intersections, its environment friendly technology (electrically powered with low noise development because of rubber-tired drive-wheels), its speedy and simple construction phase (with minimal hindrance of existing automobile traffic) and the sleek beam-way with a profile that uses less space and takes away less light than conventional elevated transit structures. In addition there is what can best be described as the special monorail aesthetics that make these transit systems so popular and well used wherever they operate. It is their modern and futuristic look and especially the ride above street traffic that is more reminiscent of flying than of riding an elevated railway. And from the traffic safety point of view it must be emphasized that monorails do not endanger pedestrians, cause no crushed car wrecks, no squealing of steel wheels and no screeching noises that travel through two-rail roadbeds.
Sadly all these advantages were already during the 1950s rigorously written off as impracticable by so called traffic experts, city-planning bureaucrats and representatives of the conventional two-rail railroad industry. And to this day ill informed journalists busy themselves with repetitions of these opinions.
As a consequence Alweg reference lines were not built in Alweg’s home-country, but in places where one wanted to see how innovative future could be shaped.
The Alweg vision is an idea developed in Germany. Anyone who today in Germany wants to see what was once developed by the Alweg Company staff and became so well-known world-wide, must today travel far, - because in its day this vision failed in its home-country thanks to the lack of ideas of those institutions that were and still are responsible for planning innovative future. Now, as of July 15th, 2004, one can see in Las Vegas how the allegedly failed Alweg idea in its state-of-the-art form will positively and decisively help shape the cityscape and environment of a modern metropolis …
For more information and a press kit please see the official website of the Las Vegas Monorail www.lvmonorail.com
Reinhard Krischer      © July 2004        

Photo Copyright by and Courtesy of The Las Vegas Monorail Company, 2005.
Photo Copyright by and Courtesy of The Las Vegas Monorail Company, 2005.


On October 27th, 2005, the Las Vegas Monorail Company was able to announce that it carried its 10 millionth passenger since opening of the four-mile, driverless, state-of-the-art urban transportation system along the east side of the famous Las Vegas Strip in 2004 !

(Source: Press Release by the Las Vegas Monorail Company and media reports)

On December 19, 2009, the Las Vegas Monorail Company welcomed its 40 millionth rider !

On December 1, 2011, the Las Vegas Monorail Company welcomed its 50 millionth rider !

On April 17, 2014, the Las Vegas Monorail Company welcomed its 60 millionth



July 2014

The Las Vegas Monorail celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Photo Copyright by and Courtesy of The Las Vegas Monorail Company, 2005.

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Reinhard Krischer
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