In the area between the north and the east gates is the Old Mormon Fort, where the Followers of the Apocalypse have set themselves up. The Followers aren’t a bad bunch, and provide healing and supplies to the people of Freeside as they can.Rotface
Today I drove to the neighborhoods north of Fremont street and I have to express right away that the most obvious and overwhelming comparison between real life and the game is the theme of homelessness, poverty, and struggle. This part of town is exceptionally impoverished, and there is no attempt – or ability to – hide the fact that hundreds of people are living on the streets here. It is a very stark and real contrast, in both our world and the game, that socioeconomic status is a clear divider between these neighborhoods and The Strip.
The real world equivalent areas of North Vegas Square and Freeside are a sort of amalgamation, blending together over a wide area in the northeastern section of Las Vegas. I have separated them the way that made sense the most to me. First, I explored the areas between Fremont Street and North Las Vegas, which I considered North Vegas Square. Then I walked through the locations on Fremont Street itself, which I refer to as Freeside. Just in case I use the word “Freeside” interchangeably in the next few entries.
# 25 – North Vegas Square
# 32 – New Vegas medical clinic
# 214 – Old Mormon Fort
# 238 – The Gray
# 330 – Ruined store
# 25 – North Vegas Square – In our world, this area strikes many similarities to the location in game, with noticeably more detritus than surrounding areas, more crime, addiction, homelessness, and groups working to provide aid to those in need. The area is known as “The Courtyard” or “Corridor of Hope” and these streets are quite literally their own neighborhoods, with people having set up tents and handmade shelters along the sides of the road, using blankets and tarps hung over fences, affixed to carts and street signs. Strollers and grocery carts are packed tight with personal belongings. Such belongings, trash, and detritus litter the sidewalks and roadways. Buildings lay in literal ruins, being abandoned long ago. Evidence of drug usage surrounded me, as well as the tell-tale signs of mental health struggles. There was no police presence nor businesses aside from a massive, presumably predatory, pawn shop.
I felt very overwhelmed with sorrow, as paralleled in-game, these people have been locked out, cast aside, and abandoned. I know this likely sounds trite, but being here made me think a great deal, and have a deeper connection and appreciation of in-game characters such as The King, Elizabeth Kieran, and The Followers – because I saw their real life equivalents here. I saw countless volunteers fulfilling their roles and doing their best to help.
# 32 – New Vegas medical clinic – The real world equivalent to this location is called Operation Hope Medical Clinic, a part of the CARE Complex, which is a large plaza that runs east to west in between Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. The medical and dental services here are free and other services exist as well, such as 24 hour restrooms, water fountains, shade areas, laundry services and a shower service called the Mobile Hygiene Unit that provides soap, toiletries, and towels.
Interestingly, the symbol to the right of the door is “hobo code” for the doctor will not charge here.
# 330 – Ruined store – Next to the CARE Complex, I saw Hands of Hope, a community food pantry that is open daily and St. Vincent Lied Dining Facility that offers a free meal every day at 10:00 AM – serving over 1,000 meals per day, no matter what faction someone belongs to.
I do not want to make light the suffering of others, by simply drawing parallels to a video game. Nor did I feel right taking too many photos. I did not want to disrespect anyone. Being in this neighborhood gave me a great deal of perspective, and I can most assuredly say that the game mirrors the distinctive sentiment felt in this area – both the desperation of poverty and the few people who provide glimmers of hope.
Also as I was walking around, some of the people who live here recognized my Vault 21 jumpsuit and were really excited to meet me. They were even more excited to hear that I was going to write about the area, and I could tell – like the people of Freeside – that they are proud of where they call home. As promised, I want to give a shout out and gratitude to Allan and R.C. for showing me around the neighborhood and talking to me at length about their experiences – especially since I had so many questions and it was brutally hot outside. Thank you again, so much.
If anyone does their own New Vegas tour, I encourage you to volunteer for an afternoon at the CARE Complex, as it will really open your eyes and is quite worthwhile.
# 238 – The Gray – I am not sure if this building served as the inspiration for The Gray, but I could not help but notice that not only was it situated right next to the rest of the North Vegas Square equivalents, but it looks fairly similar. The located is called St. Vincent HELP Apartments, an income restricted apartment complex within the CARE Complex area.
# 214 – Old Mormon Fort – In our world, the Old Mormon Fort is nearly identical in both name and appearance. Similarly to how the game describes the fort, it was the first structure built by people of European heritage in current day Las Vegas – naturally, members of the Mormon Church – and considered to be the birthplace of Las Vegas.
It was also so damn hot this day that I had to take these pictures in short bursts, retreating back to the museum (that I had to myself) to sit in the little area where a video plays, to cool off in the merciful air conditioning. I found out later that the bathrooms, which are located separate from the museum, are also air conditioned. Awesome!
I learned a lot about the location from the video and from the very, very patient employee who answered my endless questions with the utmost patience. I also found this tiny diorama of the fort!
The flags of the fort looks a little different than the Followers flag in game, but it was interesting to learn all about the area and wonder what it was like to travel hundreds of miles and literally build a city in the same heat I was struggling to casually take pictures in for more than a few minutes.
A cool thing that I did not notice until I was comparing photos of real life versus the game is that the logo on the welcome signs are very similar. It was so sunny that I could not even tell if I was getting good photos of these individual signs, but was happy that they ended up turning out. While in the wasteland, I make a habit of taking pictures of all the signs I see describing areas to read them later, simply because it is just too hot outside to stand there and read them at the time.
I want to include all of such informational placards below – including information about the “First Lady of Las Vegas” – Helen Jane Wiser Stewart, who sounds like a total badass. Among a litany of other accomplishments, she served as the first postmaster in the valley. We couriers, previously unbeknownst to us, are following in her footsteps.