Wells Avenue is Reno. It seems every hue of humanity populates its sidewalks. Lot of cheesy old architectural residue helps give the street character. Most of all, Wells Avenue contains both the flourishing and decaying elements that represent our town.
Wells’ northern end bends around the Livestock Events Center. The avenue motors past some government buildings and under Interstate 80. There, Wells is a mishmash of chain restaurants, gas stations and urban decay built around tourist off-ramps. Looking east off the Wells Avenue overpass obove the railroad tracks David Fambrough’s Volkswagen-Beetle-turned-metal-spider sculpture looms over a scary area full of abandoned commercial buildings. Descending the south side of the overpass, Wells goes from scary to dreary. Decrepit stores of uncertain vintage, pawn shops and vacant lots line the streetscape.
Here, however, Wells Avenue starts a transformation, and the funky stuff arises a few steps south, like the impossibly small Vacuum Repair store and Maurice Shabazz’s old-school barber shop.
In the next couple of blocks, Wells wends even friendlier. Surprisingly presentable tattoo shops like Body Graphic Tattoo and the oddball pet shop, the Pettin’ Place, have Wells storefronts. The street is still bumpy, and the buildings are still old, but the effect goes from queer to quaint and back to queer.
At its southernmost, Wells reaffirms its schizoid personality. Abandoned mechanics’ garages stand right next to abstract sculpture, while down-home restaurants like PJ and Company are quite comfortable across the street from the stripper-supply store the Miss Fits.