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Iowa City: 1940

February 1940: The main street in Iowa City, Iowa. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration.

February 1940: The main street in Iowa City, Iowa. View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration.


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Below is the same view from May of 2023.

67 years later

Here's a pic of the same location taken 12/20/07.

[Wow. Amazing. Thanks so much! - Dave]

Current pic upcoming

I'll do that Dave, Thursday morning! - Jeff

[Thanks Jeff! - Dave]

Ridge Road

Yep, Ridge and Whiting, plus a lot of zigging and zagging on streets I've forgotten. It felt like one had to go five miles to travel those four blocks, or half way to West Branch.

Iowa, Illinois and Missouri got pummeled by Mother Nature that summer. It was quite impressive, to say the least. I remember seeing a contemporary satellite image showing ground saturation, and the entire state of Iowa was indistinguishable from a lake or ocean.

Iowa City location

This is Washington Street, camera facing west at the intersection with Clinton Street. The building behind the elm trees is Shaeffer Hall -- the SW corner of the University of Iowa's Pentacrest. Behind Shaeffer is McLean Hall.

I've lived in Iowa City for 49 years, and I work at the University.


[Thanks! You what would be great? A current photo taken from the same spot. - Dave]

3) Ridge Road?

As a former/current part time cab driver, I'll start with number three. Ridge Road would make the most sense, as you can access it via the relative high ground of Whiting Avenue.

Iowa City quiz

Ow! I just got hurt patting myself on the back. ;)

Just kidding on the landmarks and geography quiz, but what the heck:

1) Besides "Field of Dreams," Iowa City author W.P. Kinsella wrote a fantasy novel called " The Iowa Baseball Conspiracy." What famous landmark played outfield exceptionally well?

2) In 1927 and 1929 an Iowa graduate was the only black player in the NFL? A U of I building is named after him. Who was he?

3) It's 1993 and much of the town is under water because the Iowa River flooded for several months. N. Dubuque St. from Park Rd. to Mayflower Residence Hall was closed. How would one drive the four blocks from Park to the apartments at 1122 N. Dubuque (adjacent to Mayflower). Warning: this is nearly a "you can't get there from here" question.

Have fun.

Iowa City

100 block of East Washington Street, facing west. I scoped this out downtown today, and scribe's first call seems to be right. The university building in the background would be Schaeffer Hall. Basically this shot is 180 degrees from the one posted earlier.

I'm looking forward to the quiz on IC landmarks!

300 block of Washington St.


You could be right. My mental map of Iowa City has faded with time, and for the life of me I can't remember what's across Washington from Gabe's other than the old Press-Citizen Building that's just out of view to the right.

If this is Washington at Gilbert, what are the big buildings behind the trees?


Rather narsty weather that day!

Iowa City

I'm not sure, but this may be East Washington Street again, facing the opposite direction from the earlier photo that included the Englert Theater. The buildings in the background behind the trees are part of the U. Of Iowa campus at South Clinton Street.

(There will be a quiz on Iowa City geography and landmarks tomorrow.)

300 block of Washington Street

Some research suggests that this is the 300 block of East Washington Street--facing east with South Gilbert Street as the visible cross street.

Boerner's seems to be where Gabe's/The Picador now sits.

Iowa City

I'm curious where this is as there is currently no Main Street in Iowa City. Perchance it is what is now College Street?

[Could be. Maybe he was using the term generically. Actually he didn't capitalize the "street." I've changed the caption to reflect that. - Dave]

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