Harry C. Levy was once a name that loomed large in Las Vegas. Now it can be viewed on the sign outside the Las Vegas Housing Authority apartments Harry C. Levy Gardens, 2525 W. Washington Ave. It’s a legacy he was proud of.
“We’ve got pictures of the whole family down there,” said Summerlin resident Andrew Levy, Harry C. Levy’s grandson. “He was with the Housing Authority for a long time. He was always helping people out.”
Andrew Levy said his grandparents were from Southern California and that his grandfather was working for the railroad when the family moved to Las Vegas in 1943. He isn’t sure when his grandfather got into the market business, but it was at least 1947, when a Dec. 10 Las Vegas Review-Journal article said he was beaten and robbed by two assailants armed with a gun and knife.
“That surprises me,” Andrew Levy said. “He used to be a boxer when they lived in Southern California.”
He said his grandmother made his grandfather quit boxing the night she had ringside seats, and a bruised and bloodied boxer was knocked out of the ring and into her lap.
Harry C. Levy’s first store was the Market Spot on the corner of Second Street and Carson Avenue. By 1955, he had a second store, Panorama Market, at 1401 W. Charleston Blvd., and was trying to diversify his business by adding wine, but his request for a package liquor license was deferred by the Clark County licensing board as two licenses already had been issued in the area.
“He saw the writing on the wall that the market business was being taken over by the supermarkets and got into that,” Andrew Levy said. “He also ended up opening a bar called the Duck Inn, at the corner of Sahara (Avenue) and Arville (Street) that was there until the mid-’70s. There’s a Dotty’s casino there now.”
In the 1970 “Hillsway’s Who’s Who in Las Vegas,” Harry C. Levy listed his occupation as president of Harry Levy Enterprises and noted his affiliation with charitable organizations and his political work, including the Elks, the Masons, Scottish Rite, the Shriners, the Kiwanis of Las Vegas, B’nai B’rith, the Polish American Club, Sons of Italy, Jewish War Veterans, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, state treasurer of the Nevada Democratic Central Committee and past president of Temple Beth Shalom.
The entry lists numerous awards and positions he held, including chairman of the Clark County Juvenile Board from 1951 to 1967, Nevada state tax commissioner from 1959 to 1961, Las Vegas city commissioner from 1961 to 1965 and the board of directors for the National Housing Commission from 1959 until at least 1970.
He considered running for mayor of Las Vegas in 1963 but decided he had a duty to finish his term on the City Commission.
His longest position in public service was with the Las Vegas Housing Authority, , where he served since the authority purchased its first buildings in 1952. He was chairman from 1966 until he resigned in 1989.
“He was really proud of his work on the commission,” Andrew Levy said. “If people needed something, if they didn’t have food, he would make sure they got it, even if that meant bringing it himself.”
Harry C. Levy left the authority under a cloud when Ron Lurie, then the Las Vegas mayor, said the board had developed an insensitive attitude and called for Levy’s resignation and that of two other senior members.
“It was a political thing.” Andrew Levy said. “My father (Al Levy) was on the Las Vegas City Council, and he lost his re-election to Steve Miller in 1987. That caused some bad blood between Miller and our family, and he made things tough for (my grandfather).”
Harry Levy died five years later with the issue unresolved.
Harry C. Levy Gardens is a public housing facility for seniors 62 or older. A plaque in the community room commemorates him.
“He was trying to make a difference and make things better for people,” Andrew Levy said. “I think he really succeeded.”
Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at email@example.com or 702-380-4532.