Description: This diploma once belonged to Gordon Lachnit, a graduate of the high school of the only neighborhood in Sioux City that used to be its own separate town, Leeds. The town was platted in 1889 by the Leeds Investment and Land Company, but at the time there were only a few farmhouses in the area. The town grew quickly due to the immense growth of manufacturing that was occurring in Sioux City at the time. Leeds was a hotspot for manufacturing companies to build nearby factories, for a wide variety of reasons. The town was located right on the banks of the Floyd River, which made it a prime site for railroads. Three of the nation’s largest railroad chains ‒ Chicago North Western, Great Northern, and Illinois Central – passed right through Leeds for fuel on the way into and out of Sioux City. Manufacturers like Sioux City Engine and Iron Works and Sioux City Brick and Tile poured scores of money into Leeds to help develop the town to better their own interests. With the factories so close, workers built up residences in Leeds to stay close to their jobs.
To the south, however, Sioux City was growing rapidly and brushing up against the Leeds city limits. Leeds was officially annexed in 1890 and became part of the city instead of its own town. The financial bust in the Panic of 1893 bankrupted many of the manufacturers and businesses in and around Leeds, and regular floods from the Floyd River also brought the town difficulties. However perhaps annexation was ultimately for the best, for as Sioux City has thrived, so has Leeds right along with it. Floyd Boulevard, the main street from Downtown through to Leeds, has become much more developed and convenient for both Sioux City and Leeds residents. The Floyd River has now been re-routed through city so that it no longer poses a threat to the community. And even though it was only its own town for a short time Leeds has largely held on to its own identity as a separate community. Local businesses often bear the name of “Leeds” rather than “Sioux City,” and the “Welcome to Leeds” sign right on Floyd Boulevard as you pull into the neighborhood still displays Leeds’s independent heritage proudly.
Donor: Beverly Lyle