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.

Henry and Mary Hector

Henry and Mary Hector

Henry and Mary Hector sitting on the porch of their home which is known as the first permanent structure in Fargo. Cass County Historical Society, 2007-028-022

In 1878, Henry Hector, just 17 years old, arrived in the Fargo-Moorhead area at the request of his brother Martin and started a grocery business.[1] He lost his store to a fire in 1882, but successfully rebuilt and continued his business.  He served as the president of the Continental Hose Company and represented the Second Ward on the city council. Henry married the sister of his brother’s wife, Mary Paulson. Henry died in 1940 at the age of 79. Today the house is known as the Hector House.[2]

[1] Susie Yakowicz, “Martin Hector: A Pioneer to Remember,” The Fargo Forum, April 30, 2000.

First Car

First Car

First car on the streets of Fargo, the Benz Velo. [North Dakota State University Archives, Digital ID: rs001402]

The first automobile to roll down the streets of Fargo was the Benz Velo, built by Karl Benz, co-founder of Mercedes Benz; it was the first model to have four wheels. Karl’s wife was so happy with his first three-wheeled model that, unbeknownst to him, she took it on a 120-mile round-trip promotional tour, accompanied by two sons and serving as her own mechanic.[1]

The “Benz” appeared in a Fargo-Moorhead parade on July 3, 1897. Shortly after, vehicles began to fill the streets of Fargo. In 1903 and 1904 the city council discussed speed limits for motorcycles and automobiles. By 1910 the city council ordered speed limits of 10 miles per hour at intersections. In the same year they hired an automobile and driver to enforce the speed limit on city streets.[2]


[2]  “City Government.,” Finding Aid, Fargo N.D. Council Meeting Minutes, 1875-1910, IRS-NDSU.


First National Bank

“It has been remarked that a city’s financial institutions, while they are the foundations on which her commerce must be built, are also mirrors which reflect the state of her trade and industry.” ~1881 [2]

First Bank, First National Bank

First National Bank; Leading Industries of Fargo; Chicago: Reed, 1881

The First National Bank of Fargo was formed in 1878. At the time, Fargo was a rapidly growing city, and it required banks that could handle the influx of wealth and money. The First National Bank grew quickly due to the reputation of the bank’s president and vice-president, E.B. Eddy and M.N. Hubbard. As is seen in the 1878 photograph, the town’s  “first” bank is what looks like a shed is located to the right of the newly built First National Bank building. The building to the left stands two stories tall and was 25’ x 100’ in size. Decorative brick ornamentation adorns the top, and the arched windows and doorways add a sense of prestige to the building. The old bank was built from wood, and this eventually gave way to the two-story stone bank.

-Logan Kern, Digital History 2012

[1] Regional Studies # 2029.8.10

[2] Leading Industries of Fargo: Chicago: Reed, 1881