Visual Materials Curator Aaron Mayes discusses the Sahara Avenue wall section of his BUILT exhibit which is currently on display on the 1st floor of Lied Library in his blog post, "Sahara Avenue: Dissecting the Built environment of the Las Vegas Valley As Seen Along one of the City’s Major Thoroughfares."
Opening reception for Built: A Photographic Survey of the Built Environment of the Las Vegas Valley exhibit at Lied Library. February 20, 2018. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)
Sahara Avenue is a time machine! Driving down this city street can take you back to the founding of Las Vegas, or forward to the future. You can stop in the 1950s for a little “Old Vegas” dining at the Golden Steer or in 1970s for some Sin City shopping behind a replica of the Statue of Liberty. You can cruise to the 1980s and view lakes incongruously placed in the middle of the desert or see modern mini-mansions built just a few years ago. Simply put, Sahara Avenue is a fascinating slice of Las Vegas’s built environment.
In addition to providing a survey of development through the years, Sahara Avenue contains examples of the types of developments seen in the Las Vegas Valley. Master planned communities, free-standing subdivisions, ranch style homes, major shopping centers, strip malls, parks, and schools all call Sahara Avenue and its immediate surroundings home. The thoroughfare intersects the Las Vegas Strip, includes casino properties and a high-rise residential property, and is a dividing line between the City of Las Vegas and Clark County. The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) maintains robust service with its “Sahara Express” route, while the Las Vegas Monorail terminates at Sahara and Paradise Road. All the valley’s freeways, I-15, U.S. 93/95, and the Las Vegas beltway, share interchanges at Sahara.
Sahara Avenue also contains examples of challenges facing urban planners in Southern Nevada. Some are man made, while others are part of the natural terrain. Sahara Avenue is a major power transmission easement with multiple substations and large transmission lines throughout. It crosses a flood channel as well as a natural wash on its journey from Sunrise Manor in the east to the Red Rock Country Club in the west. The avenue also serves areas representing all socioeconomic classes, contains housing and commercial properties throughout the spectrum, and has its fair share of the homeless population.
In order to better understand the built environment of the Las Vegas Valley, I photographed Sahara’s entire length. Along the 18-mile stretch, I would start at major intersections and fan out along the avenue and many of its immediate surroundings in hopes of giving future researchers a feeling of what the areas are like as well as what planning and architecture features are prominent in the different sections.
Next up… Eastern Avenue!