The Center of Everything… Since The Beginning Reno was established right next to the first bridge to cross the Truckee River in the late 1800s.
By the mid-1900s, Reno had become famous for gaming & nightlife, and the river that ran through it took a back seat to the glitz and glamour of downtown. In the 1990s, the city created The Raymond I. Smith Truckee River Walk, which brought new attention to Reno’s scenic river corridor. Today, local merchants are proud to welcome you back to The Riverwalk District to celebrate the beautiful place where Reno began. You can learn more about the history of the Riverwalk District in Arcadia Publishing’s book, History of the Riverwalk District. Available for purchase inside the Reno-Tahoe Visitors Center, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and through Arcadia Publishing Reno’s Riverwalk District (Images of America (Arcadia Publishing)).
Reno was established right next to the first bridge to cross the Truckee River in the late 1800s. By the mid-1900s, Reno had become famous for gaming & nightlife, and the river that ran through it took a back seat to the glitz and glamour of downtown. In the 1990s, the city created The Raymond I. Smith Truckee River Walk, which brought new attention to Reno’s scenic river corridor. Today, local merchants are proud to welcome you back to The Riverwalk District to celebrate the beautiful place where Reno began. Reno has long been known for its constant reinvention of itself since the beginning of the Comstock Lode, through the popular 1930s and 1940s gaming and divorce era. The area along the banks of the Truckee River has been home to some of the states most historical treasures. Overtime the area has been reestablished and renamed as the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk encompasses hotels, restaurants, entertainments venues and a lovely park built upon an island. Since the bustling years of the Comstock Lode and the early Divorce craze, Reno’s image along the banks of the Truckee river began to deteriorate and the once lovely areas around it began to suffer. In the mid-1990’s Reno proposed to Redevelop the area along the river into the building of an official Riverwalk. Since this time, downtown Reno has undergone a steady revitalization of the area. Reno’s Riverwalk District is brought to you by the Riverwalk Merchants Association, a coalition of merchants dedicated to promoting a vibrant and safe downtown that offers unique shopping and entertainment in an area that celebrates Reno’s arts, culture, and history every day of the year. The Riverwalk Merchants Association, is an energetic group of local business owners that strive to preserve the rich culture and heritage of the cities most historic district. Courtney and Chris Meredith are Nevada born residents who actively work with the Riverwalk Merchants Association and the Riverwalk District and have a deep passion for the history of the region. In the early 1990’s a new business association was formed by the residents and business owners along the newly renovated Riverwalk District. The Riverwalk Merchants Association holds popular monthly and annual events that help to generate additional funds to continue the revitalization of downtown Reno. The Revitalization of downtown Reno included the rehabilitation of the old Riverside Hotel that remained vacant for some time. The building located on Virginia Street, south of the Riverwalk, served as a popular casino and hotel before it’s closure. The property was converted into 35 lofts for local artists. The property was renamed the Riverside artists lofts and is also home to other retail establishments, restaurants and Art galleries. The Truckee Riverwalk was named in honor of Raymond I. “Pappy” Smith. Raymond Smith and his brother Harold ran carnival games along the boardwalks and beaches in San Francisco before coming to Reno in 1935 to establish the Harolds Club, which was considered the largest casino operation in the world prior to the 1960’s. The casino was considered Bigger than anything in Vegas or Europe. The Smith family were generous supporters of their community and donated money back into the churches, clubs and facilities that needed their help. They also funded a yearly $90,000 scholarship to local high-school seniors. The photograph is of Harold S. Smith, Sr., Raymond I. “Pappy” Smith, & Harold Smith, Jr. gambling. The photo shows Harold Smith,in front of the World Famous Harolds Club. Reno’s Downtown Riverwalk District is typically defined as the area spanning the Truckee River between Arlington Avenue and Lake Street. The modern day Riverwalk features over three dozen restaurants, pubs, nationally recognized museums and galleries, retail shops, boutiques, salons, restaurants, lounges and unique locally owned retailers. The Northern end of the Riverwalk District along First Street between Lake St. (east) and Arlington St. (west) overlooks Reno ‘s beautiful Truckee River where few buildings of the past still reside, such as the Hughes Porter building, Colonial Apartments, and the Twentieth Century Club. Reno ‘s very popular Truckee River Whitewater Park runs directly through this area offering visitors a variety of fun outdoor activities.
To find out more about the history of the Reno’s Riverwalk District, download the Reno Historical app.