Although unnamed and all-but-forgotten, Lovers Lane still exists as a sanitized version of its former self. The alley runs north between 1st (originally Front) and 2nd Streets and east between Center and Lake Streets. Despite the cement anonymity today, the area was once Reno’s tenderloin district, lined with prostitution shacks. Chinatown, another center of vice with opium dens and prostitution, joined it to the east. The Alley was commonly referred to as Lovers Lane until as late as the 1970s.
The “love” in this Lane was available for sale. Reno residents tolerated the trade as long as it was contained in this area but in 1907 Sheriff Charles Ferrel began a campaign to close down the establishments. He backed his efforts by a Nevada law that prohibited “houses of ill-fame” within 400 yards of a school. Southside School’s proximity allowed him to enforce the law. On one Tuesday alone, the Sheriff visited 141 women in this red light district. In 1908 City fathers burned Chinatown as part of its cleanup effort. Over the next twenty years, combatting prostitution and opium dens was an ongoing battle. In 1932, the Reno City Council ordered the razing of the last rows of wooden shacks in Lovers Lane--although it doesn’t appear that the order was carried out.
Through the years, legitimate businesses such as Herman Bonta’s Garage, Reno Auto Laundry and Sterling Appliance also called the Alley home. Despite this colorful history, Lovers Lane never quite had the importance of the three named downtown alleys--Fulton, Douglas, and Lincoln.