“When I moved here in 1950 I could walk down the street and say hi to thirty people.
Now I walk down the street and don’t talk to anyone.
We were western then, now we’ve kinda gone big city.”
- Wendell Tobler, Grocery Owner
We are in a race against time.
Las Vegas is the largest city built in the 20th Century. In any other city this size, to discover the history you would have to visit the local libraries and dig through the stacks looking for journals, letters and diaries of its early pioneers. In Las Vegas, you can still talk to the men and women who grew up with the young town and they will tell you first hand what life was like in that small dusty railroad town. But, with each passing year, there are fewer and fewer of them to tell the story.
Some of our interviewees were born here, some came here as children, many arrived as young adults looking for their American Dream. They all helped turn a dusty railroad town into the Entertainment Capital of the World and made the Las Vegas of today possible. Through the boom times and the hard times, they never gave up on the place they call home. Without their hard work and dedication, the Las Vegas of today would be a very different place.
"Sin City is actually a phrase that many people in Las Vegas don't like because we think of ourselves as a community, a regular city like everyone else."
- Steve Cutler, resident since 1953
Monumental Historical Preservation Effort
The Classic Las Vegas Archive has already collected 130 extensive video oral histories with men and women from all walks of life. Some are famous, many are not. Everyone’s story is important because they are all part of the real history of this amazing city.
In addition to the video interviews, we have scanned over 2,000 images from our interviewees’ personal photo and memorabilia collections. This gathering and preserving of the town's history is one of the biggest contributions to Nevada history in recent years and will benefit the region for years to come.
The Archive will be housed at UNLV’s Lied Library’s Special Collections where it will be accessible to students, teachers, your children and grandchildren - anyone who is interested in the real history of our town. This Archive will prove invaluable to educators, museums, students and to the thousands of new residents who are looking for more information on the new city they live in.
"I try to tell my children this: You can't believe how nice it was growing up in this town at that time..."
- Kenneth Gragson, born in Las vegas in 1936
We Need Your Help!
Preservation on this scale requires not only dedication but vision as well. Collecting, archiving, and preserving our fragile history is a time consuming project. Because this truly is a race against time, we need your help. Contact us if you know someone who should be interviewed for the Archive or to find out how you can sponsor an interview.
Many organizations and private citizens have made contributions that have begun to make this historical preservation effort possible. Become part of our support team! By making a donation, you help fund the research and gathering of these priceless interviews and historical artifacts before they are lost to history forever.
"There's no place like it in the world..."
- Myrna Kingham, resident since 1949
© 2005 As We Knew It, LLC
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