Tour Locations | Downtown Reno: From the Reno Arch to the Truckee River
Reno: a City of Contradictions
Perfect, keep walking this way for 2 blocks.
Reno is a city of contradictions. It is after all The Biggest Little City in World. It snows in the winter, gets hot in the summer, it sits on the border of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and the endless sagebrush deserts of the Great Basin. And for the last 150 years, Reno has seen wild highs and lows.
At the beginning of its history as a wild west mining supply town, it was subjected to temperamental booms and busts — the same elements that left ghostly husks of cities dotting the western landscape in the 1800s. But somehow Reno weathered them and even used those waves of prosperity and misfortune to its advantage. Interestingly though, as the mining industry’s hold on our economy faded, that pattern of booms and busts still continued. And continues to this day.
This is partially because Reno, and Nevada as a whole, has long found benefit in legalizing what other cities and states won’t, which has created an interesting history.
(SFX Western City)
That history started in the 1850s, when this was mostly a dusty little supply stop for miners and for pioneers taking wagons to California. It was officially founded in 1868 and boomed as a bonafide wild west town. Saloons, gambling halls, mining stores, mineral appraisers, and brothels all lined this street, which looked more or less like an Old Western Film, filled with with wagons and horses and barrels of whisky and bar fights.
At the turn of the century Reno allowed boxing matches when California banned them, and when it was illegal or near impossible to get a divorce in all of America, Reno became the nation’s divorce capital, allowing women to move here and file for divorce after establishing Nevada residency.
Later, we’d officially legalize gambling and though prostitution was outlawed in town in 1951, it continues to be legal just outside city limits. And most recently in 2016 Nevada legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
On this tour we will ping pong between each of these rich and unique periods, while we explore Reno: a city of booms and busts, a city inhaling and exhaling, a city between mountains and desert, the biggest little city in the world.
Keep walking straight on this street until you reach a tall clock. I'll meet you there.