The Cultural Corridor

The Cultural Corridor

12 Aug 2010 | 01:00

"The Las Vegas Cultural Corridor"

Believe it or not, such a thing now exists.  At least in theory. 

It is the new name being given to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between Fremont Street and Cashman Field, and the city is hanging high hopes on its future.

Since it sits on the northern fringe of Rexville, I've travelled this "corridor" quite a bit.  I've visited the Lied Museum on two occasions with my kids, and we enjoyed it, but at no point did I equate the surrounding area with "culture".  To the contrary, in the minds of most valley residents, this stretch of road has always been synonymous with homelessness.  It's also kind of bland.  The corridor is bisected by a major freeway, is pedestrian-unfriendly, and it sits just a few blocks away from Nevada's Skid Row.  These traits being duly noted, the area is well-served by mass transit and is only a 3 minute drive from the Fremont Street Experience.  I suppose it does have potential.

So, exactly, what kind of "culture" may one expect in the newly-christened Cultural Corridor?

Well, first of all, the Neon Museum (formerly the Neon Boneyard) is expected to open later this year.  Next summer, Oscar's Mob Museum will be opening.  The Library, the National History Museum, and Cashman Field are also nearby.

As if this were not enough "culture" to satisfy the average visitor, the area may be getting yet another new attraction.

A Zoo.

Not just any zoo, but a 'crocodariam' specifically showcasing Australian wildlife.  Apparently, "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin signed off on this idea shortly before he died in 2006, and the project is finally coming to fruition.

Personally, I'm not quite sure of what to make of the zoo and the cultural corridor concept in general.  I feel like we've tried the "if we name it, they will come" type of thing before, and it's never really worked out as expected.  The Arts District, Fremont East, the World Class Urban Meeting Place ... if tourists have proven anything over the past decade, it is that they don't come to Vegas for culture.  They come for booze, gambling, pools, and ringtone bands.

Most cities in the United States have zoos, most of them have museums, most of them have libraries, and most of them have stadiums.  In my opinion, the biggest draw in the area ... by far ... will be the Neon Museum.  Above all others, this is the attraction that I feel could be the "killer app" for the cultural corridor.  If you've ever gone inside or peered over the fence to sneak a peek at the Neon Boneyard before, you've no doubt realized that there is no place else like it on earth.  It will be a must-see for Vegasphiles and history buffs worlwide, and even for casual tourists, it will absolutely be an "only in Vegas" museum which I feel will be at least moderately successful.

The Mob Museum and Australian Zoo are interesting concepts, but in the end I predict that as goes the Neon Museum, goes the cultural corridor. 

In any event, if the Crocodarium is completed, it will employ 900 people, and this will have an immediate positive effect on the local economy.  For that reason alone, I'm all for it.  Groundbreaking for the zoo is tentatively scheduled for next year with a completion date in 2013. 

While the wisdom of a "cultural corridor" concept can be debated, I guess the city is at least trying to attract people to different areas of town with something a little more creative than another goddamn pool party.

For that, we should all be grateful.

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