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Yes, Virginia St., There Is a Santa Claus
by Harry Spencer
Dec 23, 2013 | 1554 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It has been more than a decade since I first assured Virginia Street that there was a Santa Claus. Now I would like to reiterate that fact because of the many new gifts that she has received.

Just above the Ninth Street intersection we have a new entrance to the University of Nevada. Going south, we find an efficient train trench has replaced the ugly scar of the train track. Although two of downtown’s iconic buildings, Harold’s Club and the Mapes Hotel have disappeared, they have been replaced by spacious plazas, one of which is home to the Rink on the River.

The old Main Post Office is being transmographed into a boutique shopping center, featuring upscale tenants. Across the street, the storied Riverside Hotel has been refigured into a series of artists’ lofts, a restaurant and bar. Moving down the street, we have the new Midtown district, featuring shops, restaurants, and affordable housing.

Further south, we come upon a number of mini-strip malls that offer dining and expansive retail outlets. Way out south is the entrance to two of the largest planned unit communities in the form of South Meadows and Damonte Ranch. This area is also home to several luxury foreign car dealerships including Mercedes Benz, Acura, Infinity, Porsche, Volvo, BMW, and Audi. There are also Mini, Mazda-KIA and Volkswagen. The area is also home to Manogue High School, Rose de Lima Catholic Church and the Tamarack Junction.

At the southern extremity, before you become a well traveled highway, you have the sprawling Summit shopping center. This enormous layout is a throwback to the early-day open-air shopping centers. In addition, to its many retail outlets and restaurants, it is home to a large Cineplex.

For many long-time Renoites who decry the absence of famous landmarks that once graced your sidewalks, there is always the old saw that “change is inevitable.”

As inevitable as it is, it fails to diminish the memories of such establishments as the Arcade Building, home to Joseph Magnin and Sierra Sporting Goods. Nearby, the Arcade were the Big Waldorf and Armanko’s Stationery, along with other notable businesses such as Carlisle’s, Woolworth’s five-and-dime, Jacob’s Men’s Store, Herd and Short Haberdashery, Lerner’s, Hilp’s Drug Store, Ginzburg’s Jewelry, The Picadilly, Colbrandt’s, Menard’s Mens’ Store, Rex Bell’s Western Wear, the Nevada Club, Nevada Bank of Commerce, Sewell’s Market, Holiday Market, Oddfellow’s Hall, Reno Furniture, Dick Dimond Motors, Scott Motor Co., and the Little Waldorf.

If you wanted a newspaper from virtually any city in the country, you went to Pop Southworth’s News Stand. If you wanted to chat with Rick Burgess, former lifeguard at the Riverside Pool, you dropped into the Onslow Hotel where he reigned as Manager. If you wanted a taste of authentic western lore, Harry Drackert’s Indian shop was your best bet.

As is the case with most compilations of bygone and present-day places, we’re bound to leave out many that readers remember well. But we still want to note, “Yes, Virginia St., there is a Santa Claus!”

Harry Spencer is a long-time northern Nevada resident.
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