Desert Companion

Visions of Maryland

Photography by Linda alterwitz (l) fine art , Aaron mayes (A) people, and Jakob McCarthy (J) architecture

Boulevard Mall

Why shoot Maryland Parkway instead of, you know, that other big, insanely photogenic street a few miles away? Why, when we assigned these three photographers to capture that elusive quality known as sense of place, did we opt for the understudy instead of the diva? Easy. Visual as the Strip is, we didn’t want the usual dream-factory celebrations. No pretty-city glamour shots. We wanted striking images that would also aggregate as a multifaceted portrait of the city as we know it, as we live it every day: filled with incredibly varied residents, unexpected visions, strange juxtapositions; enlivened by vitalities old (UNLV) and new (the Gay and Lesbian Center), encrusted here and there with history (the Huntridge Theatre), occasionally rattled by conflict (the Huntridge again) and resonant with the kind of big, failed dreams that just might’ve changed the city (the Midtown project, Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor). That's Maryland Parkway, and a lot of it is captured on these pages. Las Vegas Boulevard might be the boulevard, but Maryland Parkway is our boulevard.  That’s why.

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Essay 1

With the vast cultural, economic and historical diversity along Maryland Parkway, it’s easy to become lost in the showcase of what the thoroughfare has to offer. Some places are so deeply rooted in Vegas history that it’s hard to imagine this city without them, while other landmarks are making their own claim to Vegas. Providing a strong visual context as the foundation of this photo essay was paramount in my creative approach. Highlighting the underlying characteristics of what makes the buildings religious, cultural, economic or educational is always a challenge. This diversity along Maryland Parkway shows us where Vegas has been, and where it’s going.

— Jakob McCarthy

Photo Essay


Photographing on Maryland Parkway was a visit to my past, to the area of my teenage days. I was both excited and skeptical — I didn’t want to alter those great memories, yet my nature is one of curiosity. For this project, I did the unexpected: I elected to use film. And not just any film, one I have never used before, one that shifts colors from the expected to the unexpected. It was my attempt to add an element of chance to the experience of exploring an area I once knew but that was unfamiliar to me now. Pushing the process further, I shot with two low-tech cameras. I guess I really didn’t want to face Maryland Parkway straight on and chance disturbing any precious memories.

— Linda Alterwitz

Photo Essay


Brainstorming this project on Maryland Parkway brought memories of childhood trips to the mall, harrowing time spent in the neonatal unit with my twins, and a lifelong love affair with UNLV. So intertwined has "The Parkway" been in my life, I thought documenting it would be a simple and fun exercise. But as it should be in documentary work, the process was more educational than recapitulatory. What I found were lost souls and blight, feisty entrepreneurialism, and those who refuse to give up on their neighborhoods. What I found was how little I understood the street of my life.

— Aaron Mayes

Photo essay

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