These days, the stretch of Maryland Parkway from Flamingo Road to Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas is sharply divided between its west and east sides. On the west side sits the ever-growing, increasingly contemporary UNLV campus, which is home to 25,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. On the east side, however, the story is a little different. Aside from a few UNLV-funded construction projects, decades-old shopping centers with little more in common than their aging exteriors are strewn across the parkway. Aside from a smattering of chain eateries attracting students across the street to grab quick lunch during weekdays, those walking the sidewalks are less likely to be coeds than they are to be derelicts, residents of the surrounding neighborhoods or bus riders biding time between routes.
More than 20 years ago, however, Maryland Parkway was the center of cultural activity in Vegas. Independently owned coffee shops filled up with academics and intellectuals. A top-grade record store served as the premier destination for local musicologists. Bars and clubs buzzed with live music, flowing taps and warm bodies. At night, people casually walked from retail stores and head shops to cafes and bars.
And then, almost seemingly overnight, it all just … disappeared. By the turn of the century, the coffee houses and record stores had shuttered, the art galleries moved downtown, and the street scene became a distant memory.
How did Maryland Parkway go from cultural center to cultural desert in such a short time, and can the redevelopment envisioned by UNLV’s administration really bring it back to life? Through archival footage and interviews with business owners, journalists, musicians, artists and influencers from that era, PARKWAY OF BROKEN DREAMS tells the story of how alternative culture on Maryland Parkway was born, thrived, and, eventually, faded away.