Tour Locations | Downtown Reno: From the Reno Arch to the Truckee River
Stop here by the clock on a post in Reno City Plaza.
Let’s start in the middle. Behind you to your left is City Hall, in front of you is the Plaza, which stretches to the River’s edge. There may be skateboarders or people lounging in the grass. But this wasn’t always a plaza…
In 1947 this was the The Mapes. A beautiful brick, art deco building that took up most of this block, It was 12 stories tall.
Imagine that for a minute -- a 12 story brick building towering over you, right there.
At the time the tallest building in Nevada, and it was a unique combination of Hotel and Casino. That combo would obviously catch on, as both Reno and Las Vegas are full of Hotel Casinos now.
Back then, The Mapes had gaming and restaurants on the main floor, hotel rooms above, and then at the very top it had one of they city’s crown jewels: The Sky Room. An elegant, otherworldly plane with a bar, huge floor to ceiling windows overlooking the river and a stage that through the years welcomed Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, Sammy Davis Jr., up to Liberace. — The performers would stay there and party there, though because of segregation, black performers like Sammy Davis Jr. weren’t allowed to stay in the hotel. The Mapes was a beacon for celebrities and was the center of town during some of Reno’s biggest gaming years. President Harry Truman stayed here, and Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift — along with the whole cast and crew of the 1960 film The Misfits all stayed and partied at the Mapes.
As they say, Reno was Vegas before Vegas was, and that passing of that torch happened toward the tail end of The Mapes’ life. The Mapes family opened another casino in downtown that wasn’t very successful, so the bank foreclosed on both buildings in the 1970s and by the early 1980s they took over the Mapes and abandoned it. Reno later bought the building, but the city council deemed it too expensive to renovate and on Super Bowl Sunday year 2000, the city imploded The Mapes.
As we hear this clip, try to imagine a 12 story brick building directly above you, crumbling to the ground.
Alright from here, we’re going to head towards the big bridge, but we’re not going to cross the river yet. I'll meet you near the bridge.