Downtown (C.B.D.)


Commercial Development

The City's business life centered along Main (First) Street between Walnut Street and Washington Avenue, until about 1840, when it began a gradual westward expansion. This movement was accelerated by the Great Fire of 1849, which burned out most of the area east of Third Street between Walnut and Locust. The City's earliest surviving buildings, largely of brick or wood frame construction, were destroyed in the fire. This presented an opportunity to rebuild on more substantial fireproof lines. The new structures in the riverfront district were generally four or five stories in height with heavy brick walls faced with stone or cast iron facades. Most of these were razed in 1940 for the riverfront memorial park. The levee declined in importance with the lull in steamboat traffic following the Civil War and the downtown commercial axis had reached Fourth Street by 1870. During the period preceding and immediately following the War, this street contained the City's principal hotels, office buildings and stores.

The chief hotels of the period were the Southern at Fourth and Walnut, the Planters House at Fourth and Chestnut, the Everett House on Fourth near Locust and the Lindell at Sixth and Washington. The office buildings were concentrated near the Old Courthouse, which was the focal point of the City's life at that time. The retail shopping center was at the upper end of Fourth Street near Washington Avenue, where such stores as Scruggs and the Barr Dry Goods Company were located. Banking activity centered on Olive and Locust Streets near Fourth. The principal theaters were the Olympic and the Grand Opera House located near Broadway and Market Street. Until the early 1880's, the western fringe of the present business district was residential as far east as Ninth Street. Broadway succeeded Fourth Street as the business axis in the period between 1885 and 1895. Indicative of this westward movement was the removal of Barr's store to Sixth and Olive Streets in 1880 and that of ScruggsVandervoort and Barney to Broadway and Locust in 1889.


Image - Mermod and Jaccard Jewelry Company