Las Vegas Sun

April 24, 2014

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Columnist Tom Gorman: Discovering the defining characteristics of Las Vegas’ neighborhoods, including his own and yours, too

Tom Gorman's column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (702) 259-2310.

Perhaps more than any other place in the country, we residents of Las Vegas find ourselves trapped in a caricature.

To the outside world, we are defined largely by the Strip, Mayor Oscar (No-Thumbs) Goodman, conventions and naughtiness.

Our out-of-town friends assume we regularly graze at buffets, gamble daily, know how to get cheap tickets for "O," bump into Celine and Siegfried ("How's Roy really doing?"), and have taken up smoking.

These same people ask us where we live in reference to the Strip. Do we live up by the Strat or down by Mandalay Bay? Or, alternatively, do we live closer to Elvis-a-Rama or the Liberace Museum? This is how they identify Las Vegas neighborhoods -- not by libraries or community centers, but by casinos and celebrities.

Out-of-towners also seem to assume that all of our neighbors are hotel or casino employees. A couple of our neighbors do work in the hospitality business, but others are educators, retirees and tradesmen. A lady two doors down is a massage therapist; another neighbor sells contractors' insurance. My newest neighbor retired recently as a school janitor from Salinas, Calif.

We scoff at outsiders' perceptions of life in Las Vegas, or are at least bemused by it.

But this does raise a question: How do we describe our neighborhoods to those who already have a good sense of Las Vegas?

To a co-worker or passing acquaintance, do you locate your home in reference to a neighborhood casino, a park, a major intersection or a shopping mall?

If you live on the west side of town, are you more likely to tell others that you live in Summerlin, or near Red Rock Resort or Suncoast? If you reside on the east side of town, do you place yourself in relation to Sam's Town, Boulder Station, Boulder Highway or the power plant?

Henderson residents can be more specific: Anthem or Green Valley or MacDonald Ranch or old town. But how do North Las Vegas residents pinpoint their neighborhood? A lot of folks in North Las Vegas are familiar with Aliante but don't recognize the name of one of the older neighborhoods, College Park.

Las Vegas residents have myriad options, including Scotch 80s, Spanish Trail, The Lakes, Rancho Circle, the west side or the arts district. Old-timers may make reference to the townships of Paradise or Winchester just to mess with us newcomers.

More importantly, does your neighborhood have a character, a personality? Is there a "there" there? Is it your kids' school? A park? A church, temple or synagogue? A casino or local tavern? A warehouse store? (We live 1.4 miles from Costco.)

Maybe you define your neighborhood by its attitude and ambience. The other day I was talking to Damon Miles, who moved a year ago from a Green Valley apartment into his first home, in the 60-year-old Huntridge neighborhood, off Maryland Parkway.

He paid $140,000 for his 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom place, and loves it. "I'm from the Midwest," he told me, "and I love this street because it's clean, quiet and there aren't any knuckleheads. Just a bunch of nice, older people."

I'm not sure how to define my own 7-year-old neighborhood. It will help after I attend a homeowners' meeting.

Together, let's explore the valley's neighborhoods and figure out what makes them special or distinctive. Or are we so aloof, so transient, we don't care?

I hope you'll share your thoughts with me. Tell me about your neighborhood, and I'll keep telling you about mine.

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