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Few Broadway businesses remain from heydey

Imagine Broadway's heyday before the arrival of West Acres and dozens of strip malls throughout the city. A story in The Forum at the beginning of 1960 describes the businesses along Broadway during the previous decade. Fifty-four years later, on...

Imagine Broadway’s heyday before the arrival of West Acres and dozens of strip malls throughout the city. A story in The Forum at the beginning of 1960 describes the businesses along Broadway during the previous decade. Fifty-four years later, only a few survive under the same name.
Most stores opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 5:30 p.m. except on Monday nights when they were open until 9 p.m. Nothing was open on Sunday.
The story says Broadway had a “sparkling appearance” because of the new paving and streetlights installed the previous year. I remember that old Broadway and the fun of shopping on Monday night when, as a teenager, it was one of the few things for which I could go out on a school-day evening.
In those days, the Red Owl grocery stores held down both ends of Broadway, one at the south end of the street at First Avenue South and the other at Sixth Avenue North.
The old City Auditorium, which had been the National Guard Armory, also stood at the south end, although it was only used for dances and roller-skating by then because the National Guard had moved out to Hector Airport.
The second floor of the auditorium was where teen canteen was held on Friday nights, and we danced to big bands led by Fran Colby, Paul Hanson and George Schoen.
Just north of the auditorium on that last block of Broadway was Emery-Johnson Sporting Goods store and facing Main Avenue (Front Street until 1955) was Shotwell’s Ready to Wear, a women’s clothing store. And across Main Avenue was Shotwell Floral, which had been in business since 1888. That building was destroyed by an explosion in 1968.
The story doesn’t mention Moody’s, but their store faced Main Avenue east of Shotwell’s Ready to Wear. Moody’s had been in business at that site since 1884.
Across Broadway from Shotwell Floral was Harrington Houghton Hardware, in business since 1874 and closed in the mid-1950s. North across the Northern Pacific railroad tracks were Penneys, the First National Bank and on the corner of NP Avenue, the White Drug.
Across the tracks north of Shotwell’s Floral were a popcorn stand owned by Peter Boosalis, Woolworth’s dime store, Herbst Department Store dating from 1889 (which included Luger’s Furniture Store dating from 1882), and on the corner at NP Avenue S&L Department Store.
That space had been occupied by Alex Stern & Co., a men’s clothing store since 1889. Stern’s closed in 1954.
The Dakota National Bank was across the Broadway and NP Avenue intersection from the old Stern’s Store location. Other banks that were still on Broadway or had moved to another location downtown were listed in the story along with their changes in staff. One was Gate City Savings and Loan, which moved from the corner of Broadway and First Avenue to a new six-story building at Fifth Street and Second Avenue North, where it still stands. Most of the others are gone or have changed names.
The Globe Clothing Co., which sold men’s clothing, was at First Avenue and Broadway. It was owned by Hugo Stern and had been in business since 1899. It was sold to Edward Stern (no relation) who moved his Straus Co. from a nearby Broadway location. Hugo continued to work at Straus.
During those years, the Ford Motor Co. closed its assembly plant just north of the Burlington Northern tracks. The Big Red, owned by Max and Ben Letofsky, at Sixth Avenue and Broadway, also closed.
Farther south, W.O. Olsen Furniture Co. became Coleman’s Draperies, and several fur stores closed, although Mandel’s and the Hoenck Fur Store remained.
The story mentions that Ingvald H. Ulsaker, owner of Ulsaker Printing Co. at 315 Broadway, was the oldest proprietor in business on Broadway. He started his business in 1911 and at the age of 91 was beginning to think of retirement.
What I remember about Broadway are the clothing stores, which with the exception of Shotwell’s, are not mentioned. The other women’s clothing stores were Buttrey’s at 8-10, Kaybee’s at 59, Stevenson’s at 68, Mary Elizabeth Frock Shop at 101-103, Arthur’s at 109 and the Diana Shop at 222. And the list doesn’t take in the shops that were on the avenues that crossed Broadway.
Men’s furnishings were sold at Siegel Clothing Co. at 63, Straus at 102, Shark’s Clothiers at 119, Ted Evanson Men’s Wear at 219 and the Fargo Toggery at 228.
The only businesses that I can think of that remain are the Bismarck and Empire taverns, the Fargo Theatre, Sammy’s Pizza and the Donaldson Hotel.
But Broadway lives again, and for that we should be grateful. It is the heart of our community.

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