The New Wardrobe – 814 Locust – 1912

The Midwestern, vol. 2, 1912

I love old ads, especially ones with photos.  I came across this one while browsing The Midwestern.   By cross referencing the Sanborn maps with the Polk County Assessor page, I was able to determine this building is no longer here.  It is now a parking lot.

The 1910 City Directory lists an EG Christy  at this address as “harness.”  After that, it is vacant for a few years.   I admit, I didn’t dig for hours on this topic (staffing limitations, you know), but I did run through the basics.  If it wasn’t for this advertisement in The Midwestern, there wouldn’t be any immediate information to believe this business even existed.

 If you know anything, please comment.  We would love to hear it.

This is just an example of how much local history is not documented and how you have to dig, just to find a little information.

You may view more of The Midwestern online by clicking on the links found here.

Holidays in Des Moines, 1911

One hundred years ago, holidays in Des Moines apparently involved as much shopping as it does today. Advertisements in the Des Moines Tribune for holiday gifts were plentiful, a couple from stores with names we still recognize.  Younker Brothers had hand bags for $1.29 and wallets for 23 to 69 cents.   At S. Joseph and Sons, “reliable watches can be purchased as low as $10.”  You could buy a “quarter sawed oak finely finished rocker” for $6.45 at Bard & Hammer, and Harger & Blish was your “headquarters for Victrolas and Edisons.”  The Grand was giving “S&H double stamps” all week.  “Children’s Wash Dresses” were as low as 69 cents at J. Mandelbaum & Sons, and at the Iowa Seed Company you could purchase a Christmas tree holder for 25 cents.  And, as if plucked straight from today’s newspaper, one story’s headline read “Slippers will be popular presents.”

There were pictures of the “new municipal building soon to be occupied.” The Knights Templar ball was held at the Shrine Temple and was “a brilliant affair and one of the notable events of the holiday season,” and there was an abundance of Christmas parties on the Society Calendar. At the same time, the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage started a campaign to organize the state efforts to “grant political rights to women.”

Seven inches of snow covered the city the day after Christmas.  Roads were then unpaved, but if you could get to the Rock Island station, you could travel to Chicago on one of five trains leaving daily.  On the way to the station in your motorcar, you would have to adhere, of course, to the ten miles-per-hour speed limit.

And don’t get the idea that after-holiday clearance sales are anything new.

Capital Insurance Company, 1906


Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1906.

Des Moines Self-Tour

There are a bunch of historic places worth visiting in Des Moines and with the weather cooling off a little, you can actually enjoy being outdoors.   To see a little history of Des Moines visit the Historic Places page of our Local History Wiki.  There are two historic tour maps, a map and list of places on the National Register of Historic Places, and a number of links to other historic places websites that focus on Des Moines and Polk County (Drake’s Historic Des Moines collection is very nice).

The great thing about this tour is that you can access it on your phone or computer anywhere with an Internet connection.

Historic Tour 1

Historic Tour 2 (images soon to come)

Print version of the Historic Tour.

So go ahead and enjoy a digital tour of historic places in Des Moines.

Freshly Digitized – 1887 Map of Grant Park


Grant Park Manufacturing District

To view a larger version of the map, click on it and then click on the area you wish to expand.


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