Las Vegas News Bureau Opens the Vaults!

From the Los Angeles Times:

Sammy Davis, Jr and Loray White celebrate following their marriage in 1958

In a city that's always on the go, there's never a lack of photo opportunities. For more than 60 years, photographers from the Las Vegas News Bureau have been capturing every conceivably newsworthy activity -- as diverse as the atomic bomb and Elton John -- to both document and publicize this ever-evolving city. They've probably shot a million pictures, maybe more.

"We're guesstimating," says Lisa Jacob, senior manager of the news bureau, an arm of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. "The more drawers we open, the more we find."

As curator Brian Alvarez, hired two years ago to archive the images, continues sorting them, he's stumbling across pictures nobody remembered. One such image shows President Kennedy visiting troops at the Nevada Test Site, about 65 miles northwest of Vegas, where atomic bombs were detonated during the 1950s and '60s.

Where to see 'From the Vault'


March 31-May 19: Whitney Library

June 2-July 28: Enterprise Library

Aug. 4-Oct. 11: Clark County Library

Oct. 13-Nov. 30: Centennial Hills Library

Dec. 1-Jan. 12: West Charleston Library

For library hours and locations, visit

Deciding that the photos have been hidden far too long, Alvarez and Jacob are putting a sampling on public display. An exhibit, "From the Vault," will tour local libraries for nine months beginning March 31.

Of course, the showbiz legends that have played the showrooms of Sin City -- Elvis, Liberace and Sinatra, among them -- are well represented. But the show also depicts marketers' early efforts to promote Las Vegas as a tourist destination.

There's a curious photo of a guy dubbed "Mr. Atomic Bomb," who's naked except for a mushroom cloud made of cotton. The picture was part of a campaign to encourage visitors to come and watch the huge explosions. In another picture, two average tourists are shown having fun along Fremont Street in 1953.

"It's an adventure every time we go up to the vault," Jacob says. She adds that, as more hidden treasures are revealed, additional public displays of the photographs will be discussed.


Helldorado Days in the 1950s when the parade rivaled the Rose Parade for attendance and floats


Elmo Ellsworth and Dee Dee Lees, two out-town visitors, on Fremont Street in 1953


Special thanks to Brian "Paco" Alvarez and the Las Vegas News Bureau for permission to use these photos.