As early as the 1850s a few pioneers settled in the Truckee Meadows, a relatively fertile valley through which the Truckee River made its way from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. In addition to subsistence farming, these early residents could pick up a bit of business from travellers along the California Trail, which followed the Truckee westward, before branching off towards Donner Lake, where the formidable obstacle of the Sierras began.
Gold had been discovered in the vicinity of Virginia City in 1850 and a modest mining community developed, but the discovery of silver in 1859 led to one of the greatest mining bonanzas of all time as the Comstock Lode spewed forth treasure. The Comstock's closest connection to the outside world lay in the Truckee Meadows.
To provide the necessary connection between Virginia City and the California Trail, Charles W. Fuller built a log toll bridge across the Truckee River in 1859. A small community to service travellers soon grew up near the bridge. After two years, Fuller sold the bridge to Myron C. Lake, who continued to develop the community with the addition of a grist mill, kiln, and livery stable to the hotel and eating house.
By January 1863, the Central Pacific Railroad (CPRR) had begun laying tracks east from Sacramento, California, eventually connecting with the Union Pacific Railroad at Promontory, Utah to form the first transcontinental railroad. Lake, realizing what a rail connection would mean for business, deeded land to the CPRR in exchange for its promise to build a depot at Lake's Crossing. Once the railroad station was established, the town of Reno officially came into being on May 13, 1868. It was named by CPRR construction superintendent, Charles Crocker in honor of Major General Jesse Lee Reno, a Union officer killed in the American Civil War.
In 1871 Reno became the county seat of the newly expanded Washoe County, replacing the previous county seat, located in Washoe City. However, political power in Nevada remained with the mining communities, first Virginia City and later Tonopah and Goldfield.
The extension of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad to Reno in 1872 provided another big boost to the new city's economy. At first citizens viewed the changes as an omen, however in the following decades, Reno continued to grow and prosper as a business and agricultural center and became the principal settlement on the transcontinental railroad between Sacramento and Salt Lake City.
As the mining boom waned early in the twentieth century, Nevada's centers of political and business activity shifted to the non-mining communities, especially Reno and Las Vegas, and today the former mining metropolises stand as little more than ghost towns. Despite this, Nevada is still the third-largest gold producer in the world, after South Africa and Australia; the state yielded 6.9 percent of the world's supply in 2005 world gold production .
Nevada's legalization of casino gambling in 1931 and the passage of liberal divorce laws created another boom for Reno. Ernie Pyle once wrote in one of his columns "All the people you saw on the streets in Reno were obviously there to get divorces." In Ayn Rand's novel "The Fountainhead", pubished at the time, the New-York based woman protagonist tells a friend "I am going to Reno", which is taken as a different way of saying "I am going to divorce my husbnd". Among others, the Belgian-French writer Georges Simenon, at the time living in the US, came to Reno in 1949 in order to divorce his first wife.
The divorce business eventually died as the other states fell in line by passing their own laws easing the requirements for divorce, but gambling continued as a major Reno industry. Beginning in the 1950s, the need for economic diversification beyond gaming fueled a movement for more lenient business taxation.
The presence of a main east-west rail line, the emerging interstate highway system, favorable tax climate and relatively inexpensive land created the ideal conditions for warehousing and distribution of goods to the growing population in the surrounding eleven western states. Today, Reno has the largest concentration of distribution related property per capita in the United States.
Reno has experienced a growing economy which has resulted in new home construction around the metro area. A direct result of this growth and the "Housing bubble" has been a dramatic increase in housing prices in the area. Reno-Sparks being named the 44th most overvalued housing market in the nation in 2006. As of Jan. 2007 Reno’s housing market has experienced a correction of 7% bringing the median home price down to $315,000. .
In more recent years, the city has gained some fame as it is the subject of the popular comedy series Reno 911! (which is not, however, filmed in the city).
In February 2008, an unusual swarm of quakes began to occur, centered in an unnamed fault zone in the western suburbs of Reno. (See Reno earthquakes of 2008 for up to date maps and info on the ongoing earthquake swarm.)
|Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures|
|Rec High °F||71||75||83||89||97||103||108||105||101||91||77||70|
|Norm High °F||45.5||51.7||57.2||64.1||72.6||82.8||91.2||89.9||81.7||69.9||55.3||46.4|
|Norm Low °F||21.8||25.4||29.3||33.2||40.2||46.5||51.4||49.9||43.1||34||26.4||20.7|
|Rec Low °F||-16||-16||-2||13||18||21||33||24||20||8||1||-16|
In general, the top two vote getters in each ward make the ballot for the city-wide election. This is an unusual but highly effective system.
The other two members are the at-large, who represent the entire city, and the mayor, who is elected by the people of the city. The council has several duties, including setting priorities for the city, promoting communication with the public, planning development, and redevelopment.
The government's other members include the city manager, who implements and enforces the policies and programs the council approves, and is chosen by the council. He or she is in charge of the budget and work force for these programs.
There is also the city attorney, who is responsible for civil and criminal cases. He or she is elected to represent the city government in court, and prosecutes misdemeanors as well.
Lastly, the council chooses a city clerk, who records the proceedings of the council, makes appointments for the council, and makes sure efficient copying and printing services are available.
Before the late 1950s, Reno was the gambling capital of the United States, but in the last twenty years Las Vegas' rapid rise, American Airlines' 2000 buyout of Reno Air and the growth of Indian gaming in California have somewhat reduced its business. Older casinos were either torn down (Mapes, Nevada Club, Harold's Club, Palace Club) and smaller casinos like the Comstock, Sundowner, Golden Phoenix, Kings Inn, Money Tree, Virginian, and Riverboat closed, and some converted to condos. Reno casinos experience some slow days during the week, especially during winter, when mountain passes can rarely be closed to some traffic from California. The closures of Hwy 80 over Donner Pass rarely last longer than 3 hours. The train service from California and the airline service is almost never interrupted. During weekends, holidays and special events Reno does see an increase in business. Large special events such as Hot August Nights and the Reno Balloon Races pack the area hotels to 100% occupancy.
Several local large hotel casinos have shown significant growth and have moved gaming further away from the Virginia Street core. These larger hotel casinos are the Atlantis, the Peppermill and the Grand Sierra Resort. The Peppermill was chosen as the most outstanding Reno gaming/hotel property by Casino Player and Nevada Magazines. In 2005,the Peppermill Hotel Casino began a $300 million dollar Tuscan-themed expansion.
In an effort to bring more tourism to the area, Reno holds several events throughout the year, most of which have been extremely successful. They include Hot August Nights (a classic car convention), Street Vibrations (a motorcycle fan gathering and rally), The Great Reno Balloon Race, the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off (held in Sparks), a Cinco de Mayo celebration, bowling tournaments (held in the National Bowling Stadium) and the Reno Air Races.
Reno is the location of the corporate headquarters for International Game Technology, which manufactures slot machines used throughout the world. Ballys Technology and Gaming and GameTech also have development and manufacturing presence in Reno.
The Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor (ReTRAC) was undertaken to solve noise pollution and traffic congestion on Virginia Street by lowering the train tracks below street level. This has also added to the city's efforts to make the downtown area friendlier to tourists. The trench was listed as completed on November 22, 2005. In 2008, the city council approved spending on creating a trench cover between Virginia Street and West Street essentially creating a two-block tunnel. This cover is slated to become a plaza with proposed retail and art fixtures.
Reno has recently seen the opening of many businesses that cater to socializing and after-work activities, as new and old Reno locals have slowly reclaimed parts of downtown from the waning glut of casino-bound tourists of yore. Many bars and nightclubs have moved into the area on West 1st and 2nd Streets between Arlington and Sierra in downtown Reno. In addition, various downtown casinos host lounges and nightclubs.
Downtown Reno is Reno's most popular area for bars and clubs. However, there are a few other hotspots including East Fourth Street, Wells Avenue, the UNR area, Kietzke Lane, and all along South Virginia St. Most neighborhoods also have their local bars, sports bars, or breweries mainly in strip malls.
There were 73,904 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 10.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.6% were non-families. 32.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 104.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $40,530, and the median income for a family was $49,582. Males had a median income of $33,204 versus $26,763 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,520. About 8.3% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.3% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
Reno has an extensive bus system called RTC RIDE (formerly known as Citifare), which is provided by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County. The bus system has its main terminal in downtown Reno and secondary terminals in Sparks and at Meadowood Mall in south Reno. The RTC also has a service called RTC ACCESS (formerly known as CitiLift) that provides transport for disabled people. RTC INTERCITY (formerly known as PRIDE) buses link Reno and Carson City.
The RTC also provides a free bus service up and down Virginia Street in Reno called RTC SIERRA SPIRIT, which many locals refer to as "the Pinwheel bus" due to the pinwheel design on the bright yellow buses and at bus stops. This regular service is free of charge.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Reno. The city's passenger rail station is located at 280 North Center Street, East Commercial Row in downtown Reno. Amtrak train 5, the westbound California Zephyr, is scheduled to depart Reno at 12:03 pm daily and provides service to the cities of Truckee, Colfax, Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Martinez, and Emeryville, across the bay from San Francisco. Amtrak train 6, the eastbound California Zephyr, is scheduled to depart Reno at 2:11 pm daily and provides service to Sparks, Winnemucca, Elko, Salt Lake City, Provo, Helper, Green River, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Denver, Omaha, Galesburg, and Chicago. Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoaches also arrive and depart Reno four times daily in each direction connecting to and from the Coast Starlight, Capitol Corridor, and San Joaquin trains at Sacramento, California.
In 2004, the city completed a $1.5 million whitewater park on the Truckee River in downtown Reno which attracts paddlers from all over the region and hosts whitewater events throughout the year. The course runs Class 2 and 3 rapids with safe and free, year-round public access. The north channel features more aggressive rapids, drop pools and "holes" for rodeo kayak-type maneuvers. The milder south channel is set up as a kayak slalom course and a beginner area.
The Reno area boasts 14 ski areas within two hours of the city.
Reno is also home to the Battle Born Derby Demons . Northern Nevada's "FIRST and ONLY Flat Track Roller Derby League
|Reno Bighorns||NBDL, Basketball||Reno Events Center||2008|
|Reno Aces||PCL, Baseball||Sierra Nevada Stadium||2009|
|Reno Raiders||ECHL, Ice Hockey||?||?|
Reno is home to a variety of recreation activities including both seasonal and year-round. In the summer, Reno locals can be found near three major bodies of water: Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River, and Pyramid Lake. Lake Tahoe, which splits the border between California and Nevada, provides visitors and locals with opportunities to fish, water-ski and wakeboard, parasail, jet-ski, and of course swim. The Truckee River runs from Lake Tahoe through the center of downtown Reno and up to Pyramid Lake. After receiving city funding, the Truckee River now draws kayakers from all over the United States. The river is also a major part Artown, held in the summer at Wingfield Park, where locals and visitors come to swim, inner-tube, raft and enjoy local Reno culture.
Winters in Reno are just as enjoyable. Skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular winter sports and draw in many tourists. There are approximately eight major ski resorts, including Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Sugar Bowl, Diamond Peak, Heavenly and Mount Rose Ski Resort located as close as eleven miles (18 km) and as far as ninety-eight miles from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Other popular winter activities include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and snowmobiling.2018 Winter Olympics. They cited the airport, close mountains, and compact geographic area in which the games could be held. Squaw Valley Ski Resort, which hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, is considered a major advantage to the bid.
The Reno-Sparks wastewater treatment plant discharges tertiary treated effluent to the Truckee River. In the 1990s this capacity was increased from 20 to 30 million gallons (70 to 110 million liters) per day. While treated, the effluent nevertheless contains suspended solids, nitrogen, and phosphorus, aggravating water quality concerns of the river and its receiving waters of Pyramid Lake. Local agencies working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have developed a number of watershed management strategies to accommodate this expanded effluent discharge; to accomplish this successful outcome, the DSSAM Model was developed and calibrated for the Truckee River in order to analyze the most cost effective available management strategy set. The resulting management strategies included a package of measures such as land use controls in the Lake Tahoe basin, urban runoff controls in Reno and Sparks and best management practices for wastewater discharge.
Wetlands are an important part of the Reno/Tahoe area. They act as a natural filter for the solids that come out of the water treatment plant. Plant roots absorb nutrients from the water and naturally filter it. Wetlands are also a home for over 75% of the species in the Great Basin. However, the area's wetlands are at risk of being destroyed due to development around the city. While developers build on top of the wetlands they fill them with dirt destroying the habitat they create for the plants and animals. Washoe county has devised a plan that will help protect these important ecosystems: Mitigation. In the future, when developers try to build over a wetland, they will be responsible for creating another wetland near Washoe Lake.This area is much smaller than the wetlands destroyed.
The Truckee River serves as Reno's primary source of drinking water. It supplies Reno with 80,000,000 gallons of water a day during the summer, and 40,000,000 gallons of water per day in the winter. Before the water goes to the homes around the Reno area, it must go to one of two water treatment plants, Chalk Bluff or Glendale Water Treatment Plant. As an attempt to save water, golf courses in Reno, like Arrow Creek Golf Course, have been using treated effluent water instead of treated water from one of Reno's water plants.
Movies filmed in Reno include: