As the old cliché goes, you have to know where you came from to know where you’re going. In looking at where Reno is going, to explore where it has been conjures thoughts of amazement. We have certainly had our share of Paris-like moments. There have been multiple eras of time when Reno was mentioned in the same light as word-renowned cities like New York or London. Be it the Silver Rush, Transcontinental Highways, or the marriage/divorce capital, Reno was highly sought after.
In 1947, the Mapes Hotel and Casino opened its doors and revolutionized the tourism industry. Built specifically to offer gaming, guest accommodations, bars, restaurants, and entertainment, the Mapes was the superlative. It shaped the business model of the modern-day hotel and casino. Holding its fame through the 1950s and 60s, the Mapes was the Waldorf-Astoria of the west.
Many celebrities of that era visited the Mapes, including President Truman, Marilyn Monroe, Senator McCarthy, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, Tony Bennett, Liberace, and more. In analogizing this to a present day reference, on a standard weekend the Mapes was attracting celebs like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, etc. That’s just amazing to me.
As you know…the Mapes is long gone. The Reno Redevelopment Agency took over the dilapidated property in 1996. After years of vacancy and decay, the Reno City Council voted to demolish it. The Mapes was imploded on Super Bowl Sunday, January 30, 2000. The site now serves Reno as an event plaza and ice-skating rink. Even though the Mapes is no longer, the memory of what Reno once was to the world is still present.
In Defining Reno, reminiscing Reno’s big moments makes me believe there is more to come. Reno has a trophy case full of championship-like memories of what it’s done. It has a legacy behind it. When a city knows what it feels like to have prominence, then it also knows how to regain it.
What are your memories of the Mapes or other histories in Reno?
NOTE: The thoughts and opinions expressed by Paul Klein in this blog are personal and not that of the City of Reno.