Downtown Las Vegas… as it now stands
In recent months, I’ve been making frequent visits to Las Vegas. Initially my first visit in 2013 was to attend the PhotoShop World Expo held at Mandalay Bay. Though I was sequestered with lectures during my time I did have a moment to venture out in the 100 degree heat to see a little of the Vegas strip. I never had an interest in visiting this desert city, primarily as I wasn’t a gambler or hard-core nightlife person. But there was a cynical curiosity I had when walking through the casinos and hotels. I started to envision a photo story of Las Vegas and what brings people from all over to this small city.
Hence this began me doing some research about what was happening with the city. I was led to check out Downtown Las Vegas, which was the original “Strip” about 50+ years ago. The “motel strip” from Eastern Blvd to Las Vegas Blvd along Fremont St. have been primarily abandoned right up to about 10th and 11th Streets near Maryland Blvd. All boarded up, many fenced off and leaving behind vacated structures with their vintage motel marquees as landmarks of what was once there. Photographing such a historic area was forensic for me. Trying to make sense why an area once rich with activity and had become a motel ghost town. The residents that live in this area are either homeless and/or of low to no income. There is a patrolling police presence and I’m told not to walk through the area at night alone. Word! At this point, I’ve no idea what awaits these structures. There are floating rumors of tearing down these structures to make room for future housing and retail stores. More than likely this will be the case. And I suppose may of these signs will end up in the Neon Museum or similar venue.
I’m empathetic when it comes to a neighborhood going through the growing pains of a revitalization program. I’ve seen it in Downtown Los Angeles, especially in the Arts District. And of course Hollywood Blvd. I have to accept that major changes will occur as cities outgrow their own population and demographics change.
DTLV (Downtown Las Vegas) is one of these neighborhoods where it’s more community-centric. The vibe I get from those who work in there is excitement, oportunities becoming a reality, and a heighten sense of (positive) productivity. These are start-up minded folks making their small businesses happen and everyone supports each other.
Time will only tell what will become of the historic motel strip on lower Fremont St. and the success of small businesses in DTLV. Regardless, both will be leaving behind a past of promise, dreams and success. Here’s a site dedicated to the history of Old Las Vegas.
My follow up post will show a completely different landscape of Nevada!