Happy seventh anniversary to Vegas Seven! While your Native has been contributing since the beginning, this column didn’t debut until October 2011. That makes this Ask a Native No. 240—roughly 90,000 words of Las Vegas Q&A. Or 3,200 tweets, if I were president.
Around the time Ask a Native began, Zappos announced its impending relocation from Henderson to Downtown’s former Las Vegas City Hall—and, within a few months, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Mob Museum and the new City Hall all opened nearby. Even Seven eventually moved its offices to be close to the action. So it makes sense that Native began with a query about Downtown, and that Downtown has seen repeated attention here. There have been conversations about gentrification and redevelopment, of course, but what about that mystery tower at 11th and Ogden? It remains mysterious.
As we know, Las Vegas inhabits a much wider swath of the Mojave than just Downtown, so I’ve also tackled the suburbs and their role in a postwar city built almost entirely of them. For the record, I enjoy visiting the suburbs (I even lived there for a few years), though I still think the 51s should stay in the city and that a shopping mall cannot qualify as a “downtown.”
Some of my favorite Native queries dig into the philosophical and cultural nature of my hometown. We’ve discussed Old Vegas versus New Vegas, the soul of Las Vegas, the “Vegas vortex” (and, my alma mater, the University of Never Leaving Vegas), the dying art of proper Vegas tipping, the decline of late-night Vegas and historic tales of the places and people that make Las Vegas dynamic: miners, Mormons and mobsters, naturally.
History has been a hot topic among readers who remember pre-1990s Vegas. And from the Alpine Village Inn and Los Rancheros to two weeks of discussion about fondly remembered pizza places, the Vegas restaurant graveyard generates the most reader interaction. Even fast food is fondly recalled with the potential return of Naugles, as well as an unfounded insistence that White Castle had a store on Maryland Parkway long before coming to the Strip. Nope!
So Seven is 7. And Las Vegas, at 112, remains an adolescent boomtown where documenting our past has only recently become important to an audience other than historians. The best part of writing this column has been the engagement with readers (some of whom have Vegas memories far older than my own), the subsequent sorting of details and the sense of place we are carving into the desert.
Have a question or comment about Las Vegas past, present or future? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.