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Sidewalks

Commercial sidewalks on Front Street (Main st.), 1880

Commercial Sidewalks on Front Street (Main), 1880
North Dakota University Archives, Digital ID: rs000975

Sidewalks were one of the important issues at the top of the “to-do” list that the Fargo City Council had to stay on top of. Wet weather and sticky North Dakota clay played an important role in the urgency of addressing this issue. Most sidewalks were six feet wide, but streets like Broadway, Northern Pacific Avenue, as well as other streets with heavy foot traffic were equipped with ten-foot sidewalks.[1] In 1875 the first sidewalk was built of two-foot wide planks along Front Street from blocks one to six. It was not until 1883 that Fargo saw a boom in sidewalk construction.[2] The council dealt with many complaints concerning sidewalks over the years

Residential sidewalk

Residential sidewalk at 221 13th Street South (University Drive South) during 1897 flood. North Dakota State University, Digital ID: fpl00036

ranging from unfinished sections and poorly constructed walks, to the takeover of weeds. After the 1893 fire, the city council had been somewhat empowered to find a permanent solution to their sidewalk troubles. Even though the first contract was awarded for noncombustible sidewalks in the same year of the fire, most sidewalks were still constructed of wood. It would not be until the start of the twentieth-century when the citizens of Fargo would have cement under their feet. [3]



[1] Carroll Engelhardt, Gateway to the Northern Plains: Railroads and the Birth of Fargo and Moorhead ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 261
[2] “Sidewalks,” Finding Aid, Fargo, N.D. Council Meeting Minutes, 1875-1910, IRS-NDSU.
[3] Carroll Engelhardt, 261.

Robert Kurtz is a master’s student of History and Graduate Teaching Assistant at North Dakota State University. Robert served four years in the Marine Corps and has  twelve years experience in residential construction. He is currently working on master’s thesis focusing on the material culture of earth homes on the Great Plains.

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