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Harrison Avenue is a significant street in South Lake Tahoe, California. It runs parallel to the lakeshore and has a rich history closely tied to the development and growth of the area. Here's an overview of the Harrison Avenue history in South Lake Tahoe:

  • Early Settlement: The South Lake Tahoe region was initially inhabited by the Washoe Native American tribe. In the mid-19th century, European-American settlers started arriving in the area. Harrison Avenue emerged as a result of the development of a wagon road to connect the growing settlements.
  • Logging and Timber Industry: In the late 1800s, the timber industry played a crucial role in the development of South Lake Tahoe. Logging camps and sawmills were established near Harrison Avenue, and the street served as a transportation route for timber products.
  • Tourism and Resorts: The scenic beauty of South Lake Tahoe and the completion of the Lake Tahoe Railway in 1901 led to the growth of tourism. Resorts, hotels, and casinos began to appear along Harrison Avenue, attracting visitors from all over. This marked the transformation of the area into a popular vacation destination.
  • Prohibition Era: During the Prohibition era in the 1920s, South Lake Tahoe became a hub for illegal alcohol activities. Speakeasies and secret bars, often referred to as "blind pigs" or "blind tigers," sprang up along Harrison Avenue and contributed to the local economy.
  • Ski Industry and Winter Sports: With the development of ski resorts and the growth of winter sports in the mid-20th century, South Lake Tahoe experienced another wave of tourism. Ski facilities like Heavenly Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe attracted skiers and snow enthusiasts to the region, further enhancing the importance of Harrison Avenue as a commercial center.
  • Modern Developments: Over the years, Harrison Avenue has undergone various changes and witnessed commercial growth. It is home to a wide range of businesses, including shops, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues. The street continues to be a bustling hub for locals and visitors alike.

Harrison Avenue remains an integral part of South Lake Tahoe's history and serves as a testament to the area's transformation from a logging and timber region to a vibrant tourist destination.

Historical Facts

  • Development and Naming: Harrison Avenue was initially developed in the late 19th century as a result of the expanding settlements around South Lake Tahoe. The street was named after Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, who served from 1889 to 1893.
  • Role in the Logging Industry: Harrison Avenue played a significant role in the early timber and logging industry of South Lake Tahoe. It provided a transportation route for logs and timber products as they were transported from the surrounding forests to sawmills and shipping points.
  • The Original Commercial Hub: Harrison Avenue emerged as the primary commercial hub of South Lake Tahoe in the early 20th century. Shops, general stores, and other businesses were established along the street to cater to the needs of the growing population and the influx of tourists.
  • Notable Historic Buildings: Several historic buildings still stand along Harrison Avenue, offering glimpses into the area's past. The Tahoe Daily Tribune building, constructed in 1949, served as the primary newspaper office for the region. The building features a distinctive clock tower and is a prominent landmark on the street.
  • Winter Sports and Tourism: With the rise of winter sports and the development of ski resorts, Harrison Avenue became a focal point for tourism in South Lake Tahoe. The street featured hotels, motels, and restaurants that catered to visitors, especially those interested in skiing at nearby resorts like Heavenly Mountain Resort.
  • The Original "Casino Row": During the mid-20th century, Harrison Avenue was known as "Casino Row" due to the presence of several small-scale casinos and gambling establishments. These venues offered entertainment and gaming options for tourists and locals alike.
  • Festivals and Parades: Harrison Avenue has been the site of various festivals and parades throughout its history. Events like the "Valhalla Renaissance Faire" and the "Valhalla Arts and Music Festival" have attracted visitors to the area, contributing to the cultural vibrancy of the street.

These historical facts highlight the evolution of Harrison Avenue from its early days as a logging route to its transformation into a bustling commercial center and tourist destination in South Lake Tahoe.