Overcoming Adversity

Every city and population must overcome its share of disasters. Natural, man-made, and financial disasters have made their mark on Sioux City’s history, and changed it each in its own way. But through it all the citizens have banded together to survive, reinvent themselves, emerge from each disaster to carry on. From disastrous floods and fires to the crash of Flight 232, Sioux City has found numerous ways to overcome many adversities.

Sioux City’s location at the juncture of three rivers makes floods a rather common occurrence, and some of them over the years have been quite devastating. Though the Missouri is larger and its floods affect a large area, it is the twisting and meandering Floyd River that has caused the most problems locally for the city. From the 1870s to 1962 the Floyd flooded no less than 63 times, killing 45 people and costing tens of millions in property damage. The river has been rechanneled several times over the years to attempt to control it, and in 1964 the Floyd River Flood Control Project was completed, finally taming the destructive river.

Fires and explosions have taken lives and cost Sioux City businesses millions in damages. When fires have started they often took out multiple city blocks, destroying business, homes, and civil services like roads. Rebuilding was often a major community project, as some of the areas destroyed were the prime Sioux City business and real estate locations. Changes and rebuilding projects after fires often resulted in change for the better: building inspections improved, and the new buildings that replaced those burned down were stronger and more resilient against future disasters.

Often ignored when discussing disasters are financial hardships that a city faces. Sioux City’s boom era died out due to the Panic of 1893, causing mass emigrations out of the cities and millions of lost jobs across the nation. Railroad companies closed, industries were closed and consolidated, and Sioux City was struck by such financial turmoil that it never fully recovered. In the early 20th century, the city’s economy was boosted by improved infrastructure, more diversified manufacturing and a resurgence of immigration. But the Great Depression swept the nation in 1929 and Sioux City was not spared. The surrounding farms suffered and the city’s manufacturing industry took a hard hit, closing many of even the largest businesses at the time.

Through these disasters Sioux Cityans have found ways to recover from these hardships. The Police Department helps re-establish order in times of chaos and bring comfort to the citizens. The Fire Department helps control these disasters and do their own part in rebuilding and keeping new buildings safe. Citizens and business also to their part, promoting the city and its interests to keep business and commerce flowing. Sioux City citizens have also played their part in our nation’s history, serving and defending our country during times of war and peace alike. Together through any disaster we have always come together and done our part to repair, recover, and keep the spirit of Sioux City alive.

Objects in this Collection