Sunday, April 26, 2015

West Second Street was a "happening" place in 1890!

As our country was engaged in a huge Bicentennial celebration nearly 40 years ago (1976), the Chadron Record marked the occasion by creating a map of the early Chadron downtown business district.  It was based largely on a map created by the late P.O. Gaylord, our next door neighbor in the 1960s, and one of the few folks alive when the town was founded back in 1885.  They also consulted an 1890 Chadron City Business Directory.

In its Thursday, May 13, 1976 edition, the Record printed their map and noted a couple of interesting points about the development of the Chadron business district.

First, it was along West Second Street that that businesses seemed to gravitate.  Between Main and Morehead, there were some 39 business that fronted Second Street.  They included the post office, a couple of meat markets, furniture store, hat shop, a hardware store, pool hall, barber shop, two banks, the Chadron Journal, and "the first picture show" in town.

It seems the railroad town company, which had platted the town,l intended that Main Street should be — what else, but the "main street" — and hiked the prices along the street accordingly.  Before the old townsite five miles west of Chadron was moved — and before the new downtown lots were sold — local merchants decided they'd rather buy cheaper lots long Second Street.

Thus, the map shown at the top of the column at left reflects a much more robust commercial district along Second Street than existed up and down Main Street.  Click on the map and you'll be able to take a closer look.

Of course, circumstances changed over the years, and many new and enduring buildings would eventually be constructed along Main.  But you'll still see vestiges of the 1890 "downtown" up and down Second Street.  Click on the undated map shown at left.  It reflects a much more robust commercial district along Second Street than existed up and down Main Street.  

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