You know what is NOT the biggest little secret? Reno’s reputation. To be blunt, it sucks. Whenever I tell someone I live in Reno the response is negative. I haven’t lived here my entire life, and therefore I may not have an accurate perception as to why Reno has a bad reputation. However I have developed a few theories regarding how Reno’s reputation emerged which I will discuss below.
1. Downtown. (Photo Credit)
I think downtown is the #1 reason people have a negative impression of Reno. The majority of visitors stay in the casinos downtown and they judge Reno based on what they see. The casinos contribute to the local economy and they provide good entertainment. However, when you walk through a casino floor and you see nothing but trashy people smoking and gambling, it doesn’t exactly reflect a good image.
Every city has it slums, and unfortunately most of the poverty-stricken areas are around downtown. In fact, the homeless shelter is located in downtown, and It baffles me that the City of Reno would not make an attempt to relocate the homeless shelter if reviving downtown is an objective.There are a ton of motels located in downtown that probably preceded the casinos. To my knowledge, these motels are occupied by drug addicts and poverty stricken individuals. When you walk through downtown, you see the residents I just referred to and it doesn’t present a good image for Reno.
Downtown Reno is just not as visually appealing as some other cities: Some of the buildings could use a paint touch up. Many of the businesses in downtown are liquor stores, pawn shops and bars. There are a few nice restaurants, but overall the business don’t help Reno’s image. Lastly, there is almost no landscaping in downtown. In downtown Sacramento the big trees stand out, and they’re nice to look at. In San Francisco the ocean and parks stand out, and they’re nice to look at. In downtown Reno, the flashing lights for the casinos stand out, but they aren’t very nice to look at. It’s meant to be more of a tourist attraction.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some very nice parts of downtown, such as the Riverwalk District. There are also several organizations that are attempting to revitalize downtown, including the Downtown Reno Makeover. A lot of work would have to be done to clean up downtown. Considering the hype around midtown, I can’t help but question if downtown will be revived any time in my life time.
2. Nevada Law
I think another reason Reno has gained a negative image is some of the legislation that has been passed. Although prostitution is no longer legal in Washoe County, it is legal outside of Reno. I read up on some of this history of brothels in Nevada and it’s actually pretty interesting. I heard illegal prostitution used to be more common in downtown Reno and therefore people associate Reno with prostitution. Marriage laws have encourage all of the wedding chapels downtown, where you can walk in with the girl you just met at the bar and get married! Helmet requirements don’t exist for scooters with a motor under 50 CC’s. Maybe it’s just my luck, but every time I see a helmet-less individual on a scooter, they also have a cigarette hanging out of their mouth. I think it’s hilarious, but it would likely ask many people to pose the question, “What is wrong with this place?”
The reality is downtown and things enabled by Nevada Law do not portray an accurate perception for all of Reno. They paint a perception for downtown. Nothing I discussed in this article exists in most areas of Reno. In a future post I will discuss my opinion about the necessary actions to change Reno’s reputation. If you found this article interesting, send me a tweet and let me know @ericrswenson.