A recent article written in the Las Vegas Sun discussed the fact that it was time to demolish the Riviera Hotel and Casino. Las Vegas was once a relatively small town with so few main roads, an active mafia, and a limited number of casinos. The population was as low as 4,800 in 1920. As it has grown to over two million people and the visitor count for 2014 was recorded as over 41 million, does the tourism memorabilia have to change, too?
Now, in the 21st century with major changes to roadways, the tremendous diversity in population, overcrowded schools, major traffic jams, and the reality of big city drugs, gangs, and crime, one more piece of tourism memorabilia of history is going down.
When a strip property becomes old and seemingly unattractive, the property loses money because people stop going there unless there is an incredibly good reason to be loyal. That structure of tourism memorabilia becomes a thing of the past. Tourists and the Vegas locals will gravitate to what is new and exciting. Renovations can only camouflage so much. Tourism and memorabilia are what defines a city’s keepsake.
However, the reality of this type of change is all about the money, the profit. Instead of rebuilding the Riviera or replacing it with another glitzy casino resort, the city will, again, create a structure that will attempt to attract visitors for profit. Even the individual casino properties often show competitiveness as they give their structures a face lift.
It is amazing that a place like Alexis Park and some of the other off strip properties with no gambling stay in business since gambling and tourism is the “bread and butter” for Las Vegas. There is no discussion about demolishing those places or areas that are an eye sore to the city. As the landscape of tourism memorabilia changes, the powers that be see dollar signs.
As decisions are being made to increase revenues and create more ways to attract a global population seem evident, how can the tourism memorabilia be preserved? Why don’t the locals of Las Vegas show an interest in preserving the history? Just like someone had a vision that brought the Smith Center, a cultural phenomenon, to fruition, our history could, also, be a point of discussion for tourism and the city’s transient population.
On one hand, it can support the economy by creating more jobs. There is a sense of pressure to make changes so that the hotels and casinos can maintain their required level of occupancy for profit. However, on the other hand, the destroying of the tourism memorabilia, also, removes another slice of Nevada’s history. Las Vegas has a historical past that needs to be told to move the city’s story beyond its title of “sin city.” The tourism memorabilia provides the vision to tell this story.
Not all of Nevada’s history has vaporized. Dr. Lonnie Hammagren has provided a tourist spot for the community and others to view a number of historical pieces and, perhaps, take a trip down memory lane. Although this tourism memorabilia is not always available, being able to see the remarkable changes in the city over the years, could be a great opportunity for the Las Vegas locals to share this history.
Opinion by Marie A. Wakefield
Photo by Roadsidepictures – License