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From the Archives: A Historic District of the Mind

February 12, 2020

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In 2003, city leaders created Las Vegas’ first official historic district, the John S. Park Neighborhood. It was a step forward for a city whose fondest architectural tradition had seemed, at times, to be the teardown. For a moment, the celebratory implosion and the parade of earthmovers was supplanted by an official acknowledgment that physical structures could be vessels of communal memory. It was a gesture toward our maturity as a city, toward our capacity to understand that as we move headlong into the future, the past has something to teach us—that it whispers of the humanity we share with our civic forebears, in all of their striving, their small joys and disappointments, their successes and  imperfections.

In this essay for Las Vegas Life,“A Historic District of the Mind,” I argued that, while the official designation was important, the future of local history depended first of all on our willingness as citizens to acknowledge that we are a part of history, and history is a part of us. In other words, history begins with our own capacity to make memories and to appreciate the places where memories are made. Civic action begins with individual consciousness; civic wisdom begins with individual willingness to slow down, take a backward glance, and reflect.

Read “A Historic District of the Mind”  here.

Illustration by Steve Brodner for Las Vegas Life, 2003.

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