Open Letter to the "East Village"
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DEAR “EAST VILLAGE,”
I note with some interest that a group of investors in the downtown area are rewriting place names. Specifically, you, the area of east of downtown along Fremont Street, which they have dubbed “East Village.”
There is an East Village. It is in Manhattan. It’s “east” because it is east of Greenwich Village. It is also north of the Lower East Side. The East Village was once one of the most densely populated parts of the world, as it was home to generations of immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For decades, the East Village has been a center of artistic exploration.
So it is not surprising that you would like to claim a bit of that pedigree. There are a couple of problems, however. The East Village built its reputation. It didn’t simply appropriate the name of an older, historic neighborhood in some city 3,000 miles away. (Although that does appear to work for the Strip.)
It seems maybe a tad pretentious to slap a New York City place name on a colorful but grimy barrio near downtown. I appreciate that money talks and all that, and apparently with some volume, but people live and work in this new East Village. I don’t recall any of us being asked about the renaming. What, the ideas and recommendations of existing residents don’t warrant a community meeting?
I like East Fremont. I think it’s got a ton of potential, some interesting architecture and certainly it’s becoming home to people who have been swept out of downtown. I don’t think East Fremont benefits from the name change. I have not noticed an influx of artists and punk bands attracted by the sobriquet of “East Village.” I suspect most of those folks know the difference between the East Village and “East Village.”
But if we are to borrow New York City names in an effort to class up Vegas, why stop with the East Village? The legal district could be our new Chelsea. Further southeast of Maryland and Fremont, we could call the neighborhood the Lower East Side. The downtown core would be SoHo, and Huntridge, of course, would be Greenwich Village. I wonder who gets to be the Meatpacking District? Maybe Industrial Road?
Or maybe we could just maintain the character that we already have, leave the copycat names for resorts on the Strip and keep John S. Park and Huntridge and Arts District and other names we have used for years. However, we will entertain a motion to change our stretch of Bonanza Road to Champs-Elysees. It would look so cool on our envelopes.