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Your Link to the Past

Your Link to the Past


The first Sioux City Streets were unpaved, rutted and dirty. Depending on the weather, they might be thick with swirling dust or soupy with mud and water. A rainy season might make them almost impassible for the carts, wagons and horses. Then they would dry out rough and coarse, full of wheel ruts. Homes and businesses usually kept their entrances above street level to prevent the water, dust and mud from coming into their buildings. 

It wasn't until the 1880s that Sioux City streets began to be surfaced. But the usual "pavement" wasn't concrete. The streets were "paved" with round cedar blocks. The blocks, a little bigger than a pie plate and ten inches thick, were closely placed on a six-inch layer of sand. The gaps were then filled with a mixture of tar and sand. The entire surface was covered with a layer of gravel and tar. It wasn't perfect, but it was much better than dirt.

Cedar block paving often washed away during the spring floods. The street department would set up a collection station and pay for returned cedar blocks. Many children earned pennies retrieving cedar blocks.

Bricks were also used as paving materials, but they had their own set of problems. Brick paving tended to heave and buckle with the changing seasons. They became the pavement of choice after the Floyd Flood of 1892.

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