Much of the length of Fulton Alley remains. Harking back to the way Reno alleys were originally used, Fulton is the only one that still has entrances to businesses that front on Virginia Street. Step through an alley entrance into the Little Nugget Diner for an Awful Awful burger, and you are recreating the time when Fulton Alley was hopping with excitement, clubs and intrigue.
In the 1880s Fulton Alley was filled with small dwellings, sheds and wood piles. By the 1890s, businesses such as the Pacific Brewery and Soda Works appeared, as did a sausage factory called National Market. The Sunderland building was one of the first that stretched all the way from Virginia Street to the alley behind. Through the decades, businesses continued to operate on the alley. The New York Club in the Carleton Hotel had an alley entrance in 1947. Amateur boxing settled into the Reno Gym in the 1950s. The 1960s saw Jimmy Potere serving delicious sandwiches and hot plates at the Bavarian Inn and The Little Brown Jug followed. In 1965, a blast at the Alley Kat Inn damaged 35 buildings around Fulton Alley and injured 14 people. Headlines called the explosion the “Reno Holocaust.”
The past comes alive at Fulton and 2nd Street, with Reno Pizza housed in the former Nevada State Journal office. A visit inside reveals great historic photos. Fulton Alley was featured in the 2003 film The Cooler with Alec Baldwin and William Macy, with outdoor scenes shot behind the Nugget. Director Wayne Kramer noted that the Alley's graffiti already existed and was not added for the movie.
It is believed that the Alley’s name comes from Robert L. Fulton, who settled in Reno in 1875 and whose home was only a block west of the Front Street entrance. Despite the colorful history of Fulton Alley, a newspaper article from 1948 said that the thoroughfare had never been officially named but it is now immortalized by one of the contemporary red lit arches that still identify Fulton, Douglas, and Lincoln Alleys.