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VIDEO VAULT | The Las Vegas News Bureau has been documenting the valley since 1947

1956 Fremont Street LVNB.jpg

The majority of the video you see here comes from tens of thousands of stories found on tapes and film reels in the Channel 3 archives. The Video Vault also makes use of outside resources. One of those -- the Las Vegas News Bureau -- has been documenting the up side of our area for 70 years.

“Las Vegas, Nevada, the Entertainment and Fun Capital of the World,” booms the announcer’s voice on a 1964 promotional film. “Where the clock never stops, and the doors never close.”

“The News Bureau was started in 1947 by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce as part of its marketing efforts for Las Vegas,” said Senior Manager Lisa Jacob. “A lot of the celebrity news, the weddings were real popular. A lot of celebrities got married here in those days. And we were the source to report all those weddings.”

The production “Las Vegas: Playground USA” is probably the most recognizable film from the News Bureau.

“Here along the famed Strip are the fabulous multi-million dollar resorts known throughout the world,” continues the announcer.

One of the most famous still shots from the 1950s was an unlikely pose for Sands Copa Girl Lee Merlin, clad in what appears to be a mushroom cloud.

“They took her out in the desert and filmed that shot,” Lead Photographer Darrin Bush told News 3. “Just because atomic testing was so big in Las Vegas and in Nevada those days. As you know, the test site was only 100 miles from here. So they celebrated every time an atomic test went off above ground.”

“Watch closely for a man-made sun,” continued the narration, as festive shots of Fremont Street gave way to a nuclear explosion lighting up the sky from the distance.

But “Playground USA” also included wholesome fun for the whole family. All of the films and photos were preserved across from the Las Vegas Convention Center, and in recent years had been under the eyes of curator Paco Alvarez.

Since this story first aired in 2012, Brian “Paco” Alvarez has left the Las Vegas News Bureau and now works as a gallery curator for Clark County. Darrin Bush has since retired. Lisa Jacob is now Director of the Las Vegas News Bureau.

“Luckily, we were able to construct a whole new vault to keep these over a longer period of time,” he explained. “And with climate control, and just having them close to our offices that we can access in just a few feet, instead of hundreds of feet.”

“We ve estimated anywhere from 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 images,” added Bush. “In the old days, they may have shot four pictures on one assignment. Now we may shoot 400.”

That’s because the News Bureau is not just history. The organization is active today, as part of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

“We’re on the red carpet. We’re at the shows,” said Jacob. “We’re at the sporting events and special events.”

The idea is that some things never change.

“Las Vegas is rightly called, the Entertainment and Fun Capital of the World,” concludes the film as credits start to roll.

The News Bureau also has thousands of photographs they are working to identify in an exhibit called “Las Vegas Lineup”, and they are asking the public's help. The pictures are on display in a collaboration with the Nevada State Museum at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.

Since this story first aired in 2012, Brian “Paco” Alvarez has left the Las Vegas News Bureau and now works as a gallery curator for Clark County. Darrin Bush has since retired. Lisa Jacob is now Director of the Las Vegas News Bureau.

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