When I was much younger while growing up in Las Vegas I never dreamed that the city I knew could change as much as it has. I always thought the front of Caesars would be turquoise and the Dunes sign would always being shooting neon into the sky. Even after we lost the train depot back in the late 1960s, it never dawned on me that one day we would lose the Mint, the original galaxy front of the Stardust and that many of original hotels that had been instrumental in the popularity and growth of the famed Strip would be erased from the landscape. It finally hit home when the Dunes was destroyed and the front of Caesars turned off the turquoise light and got rid of the Sarno block privacy screen in its march to become the Strip's version of the Winchester Mystery House.
I used to go to movies at the old Fox Plaza Theater in the Charleston Plaza Mall on East Charleston. I also was a regular customer at the Huntridge, the Red Rock (and watched it grow from its original size to 11 theaters or was it 15? At least it had that old town square area and two theaters devoted to art films), the Parkway and the Cinerama Dome. With the exception of the Huntridge which is now closed, all the others are gone. It never crossed my mind that I should have been carrying a camera with me and photographing the places and architecture that I now miss and fondly remember.
The motels on East Fremont and down Boulder Highway used to be one of the last bastions of post-World War II motel architecture still standing. With their delightful neon signs, they were affordable, had character and were family owned and operated back then. They began disappearing from Boulder Highway and the destruction has crept all the way up Fremont Street.
Glitter Gulch with its canyon of neon was a wonderful way to introduce Las Vegas to people. With its cavalcade of neon, movement and eye-popping colors, driving up Fremont Street was magical and guaranteed to impress even the most hardened Mid-Westerner or New Englander.
That damned canopy with its light show cannot even come close to capturing what made Fremont Street unique.
So much of Las Vegas has changed just in the last twenty years and a great deal of it has been destroyed or remodeled out of existence.
But, there are pockets of old Vegas still around. They might not be as evident as they once were and they might require a bit of research or driving around to find but they are still there.
So, now that smartphones come with good cameras, you have the opportunity to document the Las Vegas you love so that it isn't lost to history.
I only know of two people in the last twenty years who have made a concerted effort to do that, Allen Sandquist (aka RoadsidePictures on Flickr) and Joel Rosales of LostandFoundVegas.com. Both spent years photographing the disappearing history of Las Vegas.
It's not too late to join them. Pick up your camera or your smartphone and start photographing the places and things you love about Las Vegas. Because, chances are, twenty years from now, they will no longer be there or be recognizable and trust me, you'll be glad you did.
Take a picture and post it our Facebook page along with why you think the place or sign is meaningful and share your memories with us!