Sin City is a Small Town?
By Tina Antolini
Next week, SOTRU host Al Letson and I head out for a reporting trip to Las Vegas, a city of abundant nicknames. Most of them have to do with the Las Vegas that is a veritable icon of American culture: the glitz (City of Lights), the sleaze (Sin City), the celebrity (Entertainment Capital of the World), or a mixture of all of these (Glitter Gulch? Apparently, that’s downtown Las Vegas, according to some…). There’s a new candidate, though, attached to the newly minted version of Las Vegas, post-recession: Foreclosure City.
Las Vegas has the dubious honor of holding the record for the number of months it topped the list of cities with the nation’s highest foreclosure rate. Vegas City councilors will tell you that even among those folks who’ve held onto their houses, 80 % of homeowners are “underwater” on their mortgages. This has all been documented ad nauseam in the national news media: Sin City, paying a price for its sins. Glitter Gulch losing its luster. But what about all those people still making their home in Vegas, those homeowners clinging to their property, be it sinking or floating? The people who chose Las Vegas apart from its glitter, and before its gloss faded?
One of the surprising things I kept hearing from the residents I spoke to as I researched this episode is that, for all its growth in the boom years, there’s much of Las Vegas that feels, to locals, like a small town. Once you get away from the Strip and its swarm of tourists, you occupy the same small social world with others who share your interests. If you’re artistically inclined, chances are you’ve been at the downtown’s First Friday events with everyone else who is. You might run into a buddy bowling out at the neighborhood casino (more on those in the episode, I promise…). When Al and I go to Vegas, we’ll be exploring just how people are making the city home, betwixt and between all the nicknames, new and old. What do you want to know about this Vegas beneath the surface? Drop me a line with your burning (or even just smoldering) questions: email@example.com.