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100 Years Ago


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Downtown - The Place To Be

In the early years, most people labored at clearing the land and establishing farms. Milling, blacksmithing, and saloon keeping were early occupations. As roads were built, more livery stables, blacksmith shops, hotels and saloons began to appear. Early businesses were usually started within the home, run by the owner and his family. Later, these businessmen then employed a few friends, eventually adding outside help.

The first industries provided for local needs such as tools, buggies, leather goods and clothing. With the industrial growth came new businesses in retail, banking, newspapers, services and the professions.

Sidney leaders also cared for the needs of the people with a municipal water service in 1873 and a gaslight company furnishing lights that same year. In 1903, a paid fire department was begun. New streets were built and more pavement was laid on existing streets. At one time, Sidney boasted of having the most paved streets of any town its size in the state.

Efforts by community and business leaders to ‘sell Sidney’ to the outside world influenced its growth. Organizations such as the Commercial Club, made up of merchants, manufacturers, professionals, property owners and employers/employees helped attract new businesses.

A business block erected in the downtown area also provided a place for people to shop in their visits to town from the country. Shopping downtown could include such places as Thedieck’s Department Store, Nella McNutt’s Millinery, The Palace Clothing Store, Piper’s Dry Good’s, Wagner’s Arcade, Shine’s, C.J. Brigg’s Drug Store, Christian’s Book Store and Gibson & McKee Hardware. Business could also be conducted at the banks, courthouse, professional or medical offices. On Saturdays, farmers often brought farm fresh foods to be sold in open markets around the square.

‘Everything could be handled in downtown Sidney’ by the variety of new businesses opening at the turn of the century. These included the Oldham-Bennett Realty Company for getting land, the Citizens Ice and Coal Company for fuel and ice, the Sidney Grain Company for farm supplies, the Olympia Candy Company to satisfy a sweet tooth, and Fred Salm & Sons furniture and undertaker business.

In November, 1819, the town of Sidney sprang into existence. Whether or not its fatal morn was ushered in by "pomp and circumstance," or whether it was simply hailed by a few speculative gentlemen who wished to invest some surplus cash in an embryo town, we can not say."

'Downtown' segment written in October, 1998 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge 

 

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