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Fourth Street Photo

Date: c. 1899


Description: This photo gives a glorious, picturesque look at early Sioux City. This is looking east on the south side of 4th Street, from Peirce Street to Jackson Street. The photo has it all: electric streetcars, old power lines, horse-drawn carts and carriages, buildings designed at the end of the Victorian era, and people milling about in Victorian fashions. This street was a major business district of Sioux City and of Downtown during this time, and it was always busy. Prior to 4th Street however, in the 1850s and 60s, the main business district of Sioux City was Pearl Street and Water Streets, which were much closer to the Missouri River. Back then steamboats were Sioux City’s connection with the rest of the world, so naturally people would congregate near where the boats could make port. With the introduction of the railroad the city expanded and businesses moved east near the tracks. Now 4th Street became the center of town and business.


However, 4th Street faced its share of difficulties as Sioux City’s thriving center. Every building shown in this photo was destroyed in the Pelletier Fire in 1904 (Pelletier Department Store is between the two buildings with capped towers on the left of the picture). Businesses rebuilt however and 4th Street remained the city’s main avenue until the 1960s, when suburbanization moved businesses outside of town to areas like Morningside. To commemorate its history, a revitalization of “Lower Fourth,” or the eastern end of 4th Street in Downtown, began in 1984 (just beyond the left side of where this photo ends). Soon shops, restaurants, and other businesses moved into the area and it was named the Fourth Street Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places. Thus we call that section of street “Historic Fourth,” despite the fact that most of the buildings on it are relatively new. This photo however, shows the true historic district of 4th Street, when it was the very heart of Sioux City business.

Donor: Carleton (Virginia) Van Dyke

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