How Did Naked City Lose its Clothes?


Where (and what) is Naked City?

In the 1950s, when the Las Vegas population was skewed toward dealers, dancers, cocktail waitresses and showgirls (see, there is a kernel of truth within those stereotypes!), the neighborhood between Sahara Avenue, Las Vegas Boulevard, Wyoming Avenue and Industrial Road was built up with then-modern apartment complexes along tidy streets named after major American cities (St. Louis, New York, Baltimore). Like the apartments once lined up along Paradise and Koval roads east of the Strip, these were occupied by what we refer to as “industry workers,” but a peculiar aspect of this residential pocket was that many of the ladies lounged around the multiple pools nude, sunbathing in pursuit of that essential golden desert tan.

Sadly, the neighborhood began to suffer as more subdivisions were hammered up and early apartment dwellers earned enough to buy homes, leaving the area to fall into disrepair, dereliction and notoriety of a different kind. For much of its recent history, Naked City has been a kind of no-man’s land, overlooked and forgotten by many who live here. Many of the old buildings have been razed and lots left vacant, and those still standing house some of the city’s most challenged residents. There are, however, those who are trying to lift the area, via charities such as Casa De Luz and LV ArtReach. They could use a little help, I’m sure.

What happens to Helldorado now that the Downtown Project needs the land where the rodeo has been held?

Good question. Founded in 1934 to capitalize on the hordes coming to see Hoover Dam, the festival evolved into a civic celebration of our city’s Western heritage. Once held on the grounds (and in the long-gone rotunda) of the Las Vegas Convention Center, Helldorado’s rodeo and carnival moved to an empty plot of Downtown land across from the old City Hall in 2005, when the festival was resurrected (after a frustrating six-year hiatus) just in time for the city’s centennial celebration.

But it looks like the recent Helldorado will be the last for that smallish plot of Downtown Project-owned land. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to the efforts of the sponsoring Elks Club, a modest resurgence of civic pride and a rodeo that draws top talents from around the world, Helldorado began outgrowing that spot anyway. So, why not move down the street to Cashman Center? It’s the perfect spot to relocate, especially since the 51s will probably move to Summerlin sometime soon.