Las Vegas Arts & Cultural District
With more than 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, the streets of Las Vegas are a living history museum. The town’s nearly 15,000 residents live and work among adobe buildings created during territorial times, Victorian structures that arrived with the railroad, and California Mission Style architecture. The unusual architectural profile of the community is a product of its varied roots. In 1835, the last land grant given to Spanish settlers by the Mexican government led to the establishment of Nuestra Senora de los Dolores de Las Vegas Grandes, later shortened to Las Vegas. As one of the largest towns on the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas quadrupled in size from 1860-1880. With the arrival of the railroad in 1879, a new influx of culture reached the city. European immigrants joined the community’s cultural mix with families of Native, Spanish, and Mexican heritage. A community with a wealth of educational opportunities, including New Mexico Highlands University and the United World College, youthful energy inspires artistic exploration.
Film makers have been drawn to the beauty and heritage of Las Vegas, and it has been a featured backdrop in movies such as Easy Rider and Red Dawn. Most recently, the award-winning Coen Brothers Oscar-winning Best Picture, No Country for Old Men, prominently featured the interior and exterior of The Plaza Hotel, Old Town plaza, and historic Douglas Avenue District.
In addition to its unique setting, architectural sampling, and ties to the film industry, Las Vegas has several cultural amenities to offer the district. The Las Vegas Arts Council promotes, encourages, advises, and coordinates the cultural arts of Las Vegas, and runs the gallery space Gallery 140 which features invitational art exhibits and themed group exhibits, monthly meet-the-artist receptions and frequent music salons. Las Vegas is also home to intimate popular music festivals including the Meadow City Music Festival. Visitors can explore creative businesses, the Historic Serf Theatre Hall a premiere special events and live music venue, first-run movie house Indigo Theater, and check out historic tour business Southwest Detours, which published a walking tour brochure and continues to work with developers to restore the historic Castañeda Hotel.
The community has exceptional examples of historic preservation and varied architectural styles, and continues with efforts to reopen and renovate other theaters and historic buildings, with projects slated for the development of their Historic Railroad District.
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