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As We See It

Are we missing the opportunity to honor Vegas’ past?

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The Dunes

We all get that blowing up buildings has generated a lot of money here, that a Venetian-themed hotel with canals is more financially lucrative than the Sands it replaced, and that one sure-fire way to draw millions of tourists is to keep building these dazzling false realities.

But there’s a certain level of crazy when a place with such a bizarre history—a narrative composed of popular culture, crooks and a few decades of elsewhere-style fantasy architecture—doesn’t market its own story with vestiges from the past.

With more interest of late in adapting old buildings for new businesses and experiences, particularly Downtown, we can be hopeful it might inspire more compassion for highlighting history in situ.

That doesn’t necessarily mean a hotel with local history as its theme, but a “once on this site ... ” placard or a few old photos or memorabilia couldn’t hurt. Travel anywhere else and you notice how on-site historic photos and artifacts can add layers to the most mundane experiences, even when relegated to a hallway wall or out-of-the-way display cabinet.

Bold, new and innovative may be dominant in the tourist corridor, but the romanticized idea of Las Vegas yesteryear is still a high selling point for people boarding Vegas-bound planes. And it’s not as if the smallest nod to Vegas’ past would pop the bubble of tourists’ theme-induced illusions—especially when the theme is already tainted by slot machines, inauthentic structural architecture and the like.

Museums are great, but when VAST Space Projects turned the Town Lodge Motel’s lobby into an art installation using items left behind at the vacated property as material and subject matter for Life Is Beautiful, it told a rich and colorful story that couldn’t be experienced any other way.

Certainly the Bellagio could find a room for the Dunes’ sultan.

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Kristen Peterson

Kristen Peterson joined the Las Vegas Sun in 1998 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, she turned her focus ...

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