Capturing Old Vegas

This isn’t about Northern Nevada, it’s about Vegas (I know – gasp!). But there’s a great article in the Las Vegas Sun yesterday about how Las Vegas is losing its history, little by little. But it’s not about the Strip, as most of these articles tend to be, it’s about the littler things. Houses, motels, restaurants, commercial buildings. They’re being torn down for new developments, new subdivisions, new shopping centers.

But really the article isn’t even about them, it’s about the guy who dedicates his time to documenting them before they’re gone forever. Allen Sandquist, who posts as Roadsidepictures on Flickr, spends his time walking the streets of Vegas and taking pictures, trying to capture Old Vegas before it disappears. And it turns out he needs to keep on his toes with this task, because in Vegas you never know when something’s going to be torn down without warning.

On this morning, he discusses some of the year’s biggest heartbreaks. Topping the list is a 1915 one-story home on First Street, which until a few months ago was – Sandquist thinks – the oldest standing house in Las Vegas. Investors had demolished it along with everything else on the block. There was no warning. Sandquist had been photographing it since coming across it in 2005.

“I always thought that if they preserved any house, it would be that one,” he says with astonishment in his eyes.

But such is the grievance of any history buff who snakes his way through the city’s nooks and crannies, suburbs and roadsides knowing that what he photographs today might be gone tomorrow.

This is something I try to do around Carson City with Around Carson, but there’s not much point because they never tear anything down. So I have to focus on the opposite; documenting the construction that happens around town. That’s probably a more cheerful beat to follow anyway.

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