Arch District

The Arch District is renowned for its iconic landmark, the Reno Arch, established in the heart of downtown Reno at the vibrant intersection of Virginia Street and Commercial Row. While the arch has experienced many upgrades and redesigns, the current sign is its third iteration. Today, it stands beaming with colors of silver, blue, and white, proudly proclaiming the slogan of Reno: “The Biggest Little City in the World.”

The district is home to The Row’s hustle and bustle, connecting most of Reno’s casino industry, such as the Whitney Peak, the Silver Legacy, Eldorado, and Circus Circus. At street level, guests can anticipate popular street-closing events throughout the year. 

The newest addition of Partnership Plaza is within the space, home to monthly events and the Downtown Reno Partnerships executive offices and ambassador hub.

The history of the Reno Arch begins with the Nevada Transcontinental Highway Exposition, a promotional fair from June 25 – July 31, 1927, in Reno, Nevada, to commemorate the opening of the Lincoln Highway. City officials and celebrants so widely loved the sign that the city council decided to keep the arch as a permanent installation. Soon enough, the council held a contest to devise a slogan that would replace the exposition lettering on the arch. Thanks to an entrant from Sacramento, the saying, “The Biggest Little City in the World,” was adopted to accompany the arch and debuted on June 25, 1929.  

However, in 1934, several residents complained about the slogan, and a new minimalist arch was installed that read “Reno” in green neon. It was only a short time until that arch faced backlash, and residents demanded the slogan make its return. This sign remained for the next 29 years before it was relocated to Idlewild Park and then retired into storage until it was reassembled for use in the film Cobb in 1994. Since then, this arch has been located south of the Truckee River on Lake Street.

The minimalist arch from 1934 to 1963 was renovated to include a rotating star, plastic panels, and an inverted arch for the slogan. This arch remained on Virginia Street until 1987 when visitors and residents again found it outdated. In 1995, this arch was donated to Willits, California.

The third and current arch was commissioned to brighten up the landscape of Virginia Street with red, yellow, and white bulbs and was installed on August 8, 1987. However, in 2017 the City Council voted to change the arch’s colors to silver, blue, and white in honor of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Wolfpack sports teams.

  • The Reno Arches have been featured in films like Kingpin, Sister Act, Cobbs, The Wizard, and Waking Up in Reno.

  • The Reno slogan, “The Biggest Little City in the World,” came from a man from Sacramento, California.

  • According to legend, the event promoting the Nevada Transcontinental Highway Exposition was a three-day party with all the free food and whiskey one could drink.

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