If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say that Las Vegas doesn’t want to become Santa Fe or Taos, I’d be a rich person. But what does this really mean? How real are these fears?
In order to find out, I’ve been looking into the history of Santa Fe and Taos to find out what exactly produced them, and how likely would it be that sincere efforts to improve the quality of life for all Las Vegans would actually result in something like Santa Fe or Taos occurring here.
As far as I can tell, it would be very difficult for Las Vegas to become like these cities, and for some very specific reasons. The CCHP in Las Vegas promotes architectural authenticity, preservation and diversity, as opposed to homogenizing everything historically genuine in Las Vegas with an invented architectural style, as was done in Santa Fe and to some extent Taos.
Our archaeologists and anthropologists are not collaborating with Las Vegas artists to promote a largely invented culture and fabricated “traditions,” as was done in Santa Fe and Taos. In fact, for a variety of reasons beyond the scope of this letter, artists in Las Vegas generally do not have a major, determining role in the promotion of arts and culture in Las Vegas.
Amtrak rail doesn’t hire Las Vegas artists to create advertising to promote the area to the rest of the U.S., nor does the federal government subsidize artists to do so, as was the case at the beginning and early part of the 20th century. Las Vegas artists do not send traveling group shows to cities across the U.S. in order to promote the area, as was done by the artist colonies of Santa Fe and Taos.
There are no world fairs and expositions anymore that showcase invented southwestern culture and highlight southwestern destinations to the country and the world. And finally, we are not the center of state government, as is Santa Fe.
While it is reasonable to be mindful of increased commercialization and sprawl that accompanies a lot of economic development, because of the special and limited circumstances that actually produced Santa Fe and Taos, it would seem unlikely that anyone could turn Las Vegas into Santa Fe or Taos even if they tried.