When you go on vacation is it the highlight of your travel to see someone else's new Big Box, Shopping Center, Bank, Government Office Building (GOB) or Jail? When you go to a town that has some significance to the Nation's History do want to see the old town or the new? "Gee, honey, let's go to Williamsburg and see their new Wal-Mart -- Oh I don't know, I'd rather go to San Antonio, I hear they'be got a great new shopping center -- Well that sounds fine, we could actually see both and we could stop off in-between at Hannibal, Missouri where I hear they have a lovely new Jail commemorating some writer".
The towns of New England were founded during the Whaling Era and their architecture reflects that period. The towns of the Deep South were Slave Era and their buildings are of the period. The towns of the Southwest were the Spanish Colonial Era and their architecture retains that history.
Of course, whaling and slavery are both extremely politically incorrect these days, and the Indians certainly didn’t do well under Spanish colonialism. Maybe all the buildings that were built during those heinous times should be flattened in an effort to erase the foul history from the face of the planet. They can be replaced with modern buildings as if to say, "We once were pretty not nice people and did some pretty not nice things, but now we are new and different and good".
That isn’t going to happen for a simple reason: Tourists. Tourists go to historic places so they can step back into the pages of history and vicariously Live The Life Of The Day – without giving up small things like potties and MacDonald’s.
Los Alamos is a town of the Cold War Era, and era which is fading fast and whose population is aging and dying off at an increasing rate. Tourists come to Los Alamos to see what life was like in not just any Cold War Era town, but the town that was at the center of it all. They want to step back in the pages of history........................
Only Los Alamos keeps ripping out the pages.
Rather than be embarrassed by our Cold War Era roots, we should celebrate them. Someone said to me, "I don’t see how anyone could love an old barracks" (meaning the Concrete Caves). Well, tourists revel in that sort of stuff. We should be designing in up-graded versions of the Era, not flattening it. And wouldn’t the tourists get a kick seeing cars from the late 40's and early 50's running around town? If the old quonset is falling to pieces, why not replace it with a new one that has the modern amenities and old style design? You could turn it, and others, into a tourist trap par excellence. Statues are nice, but wouldn't it be cool to think that maybe...."hey, was that Oppenheimer that just went in the post office?" Markers in front of the building they mark are helpful, but markers in front of a building no longer there are simply gravestones leaving the tourists to scratch their head and say, "Gee, nice building, but if it was of such historic significance, why'd they get rid of it?"
Reality Check: We think we are getting a national historical park here. This would probably work better if there was something historical remaining................rather than something hysterical -- like touring the three most important places in town: The Lab where we make our money, The Bank where we stash our money, and The Jail where we put people who would take our money.