Learning Las Vegas : Portrait of a Northern New Mexican Place
Las Vegas, New Mexico, is the subject and muse of this provocative case study of "place", exploring the history and geography but most centrally walking the town and landscape and meeting the people whose lives tell of the rich complexity of the location. To start with topography, Las Vegas translates as "The Meadows". The name refers to the series of spacious grasslands fanning out from the slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Range where the mountains form the western terminus of the Great Plains. This fine location allowed Las Vegas, situated as it was on the Santa Fe Trail and with the arrival of the railroad, to become New Mexico's handsomest, most prosperous town. Throughout the opulent years from 1821 through the first decades of the twentieth century, merchants and businessmen amassed considerable wealth in grain and lumber from Mora and San Miguel counties, along with wool, hides, and metals from the Pecos and Mesilla valleys. The region's decline was spelled out by the rerouting of the railway along with changes in manufacturing. Today's Las Vegas is a proud but fading shadow of its former self, captured in human terms, in families and memories, and still in the dreams of its people. Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, an accomplished cultural historian and photographer, includes portraits of some sixty residents interviewed extensively for the project and dozens of photographs detailing the town's architecture, public spaces, and natural features. To comprehend the layout of Las Vegas and study its architecture, Rogers walked its streets, exploring the outlying villages and ranches with traces of the Santa Fe Trail at Fort Union and elsewhere. To visualize its past, she delved deeply in archives and histories. To feel the pulse of the present, Rogers interviewed Las Vegans representing different cultural backgrounds, ages, and walks of life and immersed herself in local events and social gatherings. The result is an authentic portrait of a unique cultural place.
- Hardback | 284 pages
- 230 x 255 x 30.73mm | 1,666g
- 01 Jan 2015
- Museum of New Mexico Press
- New Mexico, United States
"When we speak of "a sense of place," what do we mean? What is it exactly that we sense? How do we perceive a place its nature, its character, its "genius"? Can we articulate certain inherent attributes that denote place and mark each individual place as distinct and different from all others?" -- Elizabeth Barlow Rogers "From the Introduction" "Learning Las Vegas is like a strolling conversation with Studs Terkel, J. B. Jackson, and Dorothea Lange. Rogers combines sixty-five telling interviews with local residents, her illuminating read of the cultural landscape, and plentiful clear-eyed portraits of the city and its people to create one of the most penetrating studies of place ever." -- Chris Wilson, author The Myth of Santa Fe: Creating a Modern Regional Tradition "From the jacket" "No, not that Las Vegas! We're talking here about the soulful one, the one where place and people matter. Learning Las Vegas offers a loving and insightful portrait of a quintessentially New Mexican town, which it compounds out of cameos of scores of citizens--politicos, merchants, musicians, teachers, tattoo artists, hangers-on, and hangers-out." -- William deBuys, author of River of Traps: A New Mexico Mountain Life "From the jacket" ..". an instant classic of Western Americana. Learning Las Vegas reveals the many faces, aspirations, and also tenacity of a southwestern railroad boomtown that has weathered the storms of history, conquest, and injustice yet boasts rich traditions of culture and picturesque architecture." -- Elmo Baca, historic preservationist "From the jacket"
About Elizabeth Barlow Rogers
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers is a landscape preservationist and cultural historian and president of the Foundation for Landscape Studies. She is the author of numerous publications including Landscape Design: A Cultural and Architectural History, Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation across Two Centuries, and Romantic Gardens: Nature, Art, and Landscape Design.