Muscatine County, Iowa
Muscatine Journal & News-Tribune
Centennial Edition
31 May 1940

Section 8 - Page 2, Submitted by Kathy Foote, June 14, 2012

City Continues Steady Progress
Major Improvements In Latest Span of Years Are Recorded

Progress of Muscatine has been steady through the more than one hundred years of its career as a town and city and this development has not slackened in recent years but rather has been gaining momentum.

An abundance of proof of Muscatine’s progressiveness may be seen in the large number and variety of civic improvements that have been erected in this city during the past five years. Probably no other five year period in the history of the community can equal the one just past in the total expenditures for the construction of useful, architecturally attractive and lasting public buildings and utilities.

Major improvements either completed and dedicated or under construction during this half of a decade have a total value of more than five million dollars. Government money allotted here through the facilities of the Public Works Progress Administration added impetus to building activities in the city during the period, and the nine foot channel program on the Mississippi also contributed heavily to the total.

* * *

While lock and dam No. 16 were under construction here and public boards, either through their own funds or the financial assistance of government agencies, were building major structures, individual citizens were also doing their part to make Muscatine a more modern and attractive city. Scores of new homes were erected here during the five year span and many others were re-rooted, remodeled, and modernized. Construction of new garages and commercial buildings kept pace with the improvements going on in the residential sections of the city.

* * *

Figures procured at the office of City Engineer I. V. Howenstine disclose that expenditures for building, as shown in the records of building permits granted to local citizens, ranged far over the one hundred thousand mark during each of the past five years. Aside from the erection of public and private buildings, great strides were made during the five year period in the system of roads and streets that serve Muscatine and outlying areas. Smooth concrete replaced the old rough, outworn brick pavement on highway 61 through the main part of the city and many less heavily traveled thoroughfares in the city were paved or were otherwise improved. Dreams of the supporters of the “Iowa short line” for recognition of the route as the best across Iowa were realized with the one-numbering of the highway across Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois and the installation of paving on the last remaining dirt gaps. Modernization of the Muscatine high bridge which carries this important road, now known as No. 92, across the Mississippi here, helped to make this highway a popular one for the motorist wishing to avoid the congestion of cities and the dangers of curves on winding roads.

* * *

Less apparent to the eye of the general public but nevertheless important from the standpoint and happiness of the community were the improvements made by the municipal light and water boards during the past five years. During this period, electric lines in the down-town district were placed underground. A new reservoir was constructed on West Hill, a water tower was erected on East Hill, new wells for supplying city water were sunk and linked with the distribution system of mains, a new sub-station was erected and construction was started on the enlargement of the light plant on the Maple Grove road.

* * *

Educational facilities, featured by the erection of the spacious and modern high school, were expanded in the city during the period. The post office was made worthy of the progressive Muscatine community through an enlargement and remodeling program that brought Postmaster General James A. Farley here for a dedication ceremony in September 1837. Another important improvement was the remodeling of Bellevue Hospital.

Major civic improvements under construction or completed during the past five years. Together with the approximate cost of each, are as follows:

    New city reservoir on West Hill -- $49,000.
    New electrical sub-station at Pine and Second streets -- $329,000.
    Lock and dam No. 16 -- $3,405.130.
    New pavement on Park Avenue, Second and Front streets -- $100,000.
    Muscatine high bridge remodeled --$100,000.
    Electrical system place underground in down-town district -- $103,000.
    Post office remodeled -- $135,000.
    Five wells sunk and suction line installed -- $30,000.
    Water tower erected on East Hill -- $16,000.
    New high school constructed -- $523,000.
    Bellevue Hospital remodeled -- $52,000.
    New light plant under construction --$606,000.

All of these projects taken together have a value of $5,248.130 and bear eloquent testimony to the fact that Muscatine far from being a dying city is in reality one of the most substantial and progressive of its size in the mid-west. That Muscatine has been able to achieve such progress in so short a time is proof that the city’s leaders and body of citizens believe in progress and are alert to opportunities for construction of improvements, whether offered through government agencies or private enterprise.

Building permit records show that residents of the city spent $135,371 for new buildings and improvements in 1835. During the following year of 1836 building activities involved the expenditure of $147,000 and in 1837 the total was $177,053. Including the cost of the new high school building, the total expended for building, as shown by permit records, was $611,767 in 1838. Residents spent $184,825 on construction in 1839, of which $92,500 was for the erection of 42 new homes.

* * * * * * *

“Wanted, at Mt. Arrarat. No. 1. Long Row, Louisa county. One hundred yards from Snow Ball. 4 miles north of Wapello on the road from Bloomington to Burlington. Twenty-five good journeymen coopers for which the following prices will be paid: For pork barrels, 50 cts: 25 cts: and flour barrels, 25 cts. Cash on demand and no mistake”-- Muscatine Journal. February 5, 1848.

* * * * * * *

Return to Centennial Table of Contents Page

Back to the Muscatine Co. IAGenWeb, Index Page

Page created June 14, 2012 by Lynn McCleary