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Photo of the Social Agencies Building

Date: c. 1930


Description: This is a Depression-era photo of the Social Agencies Building in Sioux City, which in times of financial stress provided basic necessities like food, clothing, and even employment to those individuals who qualified. Social Agencies started with the earliest major Sioux City financial scare, the Panic of 1893. This panic was just the worst of several panics throughout the 19th century. This panic struck the nation during Sioux City’s boom period, when industries and businesses were flourishing. Then a devastating flood hit the city in 1892, causing massive property damage, and the very next year the panic struck. The whole nation was affected but Sioux City was struck particularly hard. Many of the businesses were speculative and depended on promise money from the East Coast. So when the panic hit that promise money disappeared, and many major businesses collapsed overnight. Hundreds went without work and nowhere to turn for jobs, and people depended on social services like the Social Agencies just to get by. Over half of the city’s population left, seeking better opportunities out west and in the nearby cities of Omaha and Sioux Falls. Everyone thought the city’s economy was done for and that the city would never recover.


But Sioux City did spring back from the Panic of 1893. Investors from the east took advaAntage of the city’s resources and market capabilities. Manufacturing industries were consolidated and formed more stable and lasting businesses. New technologies were brought into the city to help it rebuild into an industrial center once again. Sioux City’s population rose from 50,000 in 1893 to nearly 80,000 by 1929. The largest and most significant improvements were in the meatpacking industry. The industry was shattered in the panic but under Fred L. Eaton the stockyards and meatpacking industry was reorganized. All these improvements helped the city regain some of its lost glory, though the financial limits of the city would be tested again with the Great Depression.


Donor: Mrs. Herman Rohr

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