When I was 16 years old, I wrote an essay for my English class that detailed a day spent in Boulder City with my now-husband. I will save myself the embarrassment of including actual quotes, but the essay evoked the quiet contentment that comes from a day of eating pizza, playing in the library fountain and sneaking up Radar Mountain for a sunset hike.
Even as a teenager I preferred the quaint charms of Boulder City to whatever my more rebellious peers were getting up to in Las Vegas. Safe to say, I’ve had a love affair with this town for two decades and counting.
Part of what makes Boulder City so special is its history; it is the town that built the Hoover Dam, one of the country’s modern architectural marvels. It is a town that was built by and for its people, a town that has clung to the relics that transport us to a time long since passed.
Walking through downtown, peeping at the houses on the avenues, you can see its roots. The foundation of this town remains intact, while other similar towns in the U.S. have crumbled. Boulder City is uniquely American and I doubt you’ll find anywhere else in the world like it.
And yet, Boulder City also has to be a place of growth. Demographics are shifting as my generation become parents and retail trends are changing as we enter the third decade of the 21st century. While Boulder City always will, and should, hold on to pieces of its nostalgic past, the town needs to embrace change in order to survive.
I think no place better encapsulates this balance of history and growth than the Dam Roast House &Browder Bookstore. The Dam Roast House is the coffee shop that teenage me wished existed 20 years ago.
It’s a cool space to spend time in, serves food and drinks sourced from various local businesses, and hosts a variety of community events. They hit almost every square on the “things Millennials love” bingo card.
But they also bring this trendy atmosphere to downtown without sacrificing the history of the space. They pay homage to the Browder building’s past not only with the bookstore’s name, but also by creating a space for people to gather and build community. This coffee shop is a gem and, perhaps, a turning point for Boulder City’s cultural revival.
In just the past two years, downtown has seen tremendous growth: an upscale bistro, a pasty shop and the recent announcement of a new steakhouse.
One of my favorite spots to sit on a nice day is the patio at Cornish Pasty Co. Their tables face the Boulder Dam Hotel, a building that has stood as part of the cultural center of Boulder City since 1932. It’s a beautiful example of coexistence between the town’s past and present.
Boulder City does an excellent job of holding onto its historic small-town charm, but I also think it has a bright and interesting future. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that this town will not go gentle into that good night; it’s honestly too cool for that. Boulder City will continue to adapt, to revitalize and to be a shining example of pure Americana.
And I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m excited to see the town’s future unfold. I wonder what parts of Boulder City will stick in my kids’ memories when they’re writing their college admission essays.
The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.
Kayla Kirk is a lactation educator in the Las Vegas Valley. She holds degrees in psychology and perinatal education from Boston University and the University of California, San Diego. You can find her hanging out in the local coffee shops or hiking with her husband and two children.