If you’re fascinated by history, you know postcards are really a simple pleasure. You can tease so many stories out of a few fine details when you look close.
This intersection in Fargo is significant in the history of our state as the place where Fargo literally rose from the ground after the NP Avenue Railroad Bridge was completed in 1872, less than a mile to the east. It was the first railroad bridge across the Red River at a time when this was still the Dakota Territory. The Northern Pacific stopped at the depot just out of frame on the right and thus, this city block became the first stop in Dakota for the majority of travelers from the east and was frequently the first time many had experienced what they perceived as “the west.”
Moody’s department store would have been just out of frame on the left of the scene below, and there are other interesting landmarks in this postcard, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the postcard.
I found this card when I was nosing around in a box at an antique store. It shows Front Street in Fargo, a street known today as Main Avenue, circa 1909, with Broadway intersecting in the foreground. As you can see, the card was in pretty bad shape, so I started by doing a quick restoration.
That’s not perfect, but a little better.
Dr. Mallarian had his offices right on the corner in the same building as the bank, which was founded in 1878 as the First National Bank. However by the time of this photo in 1909, the bank had changed hands and was known as Commercial Bank of Fargo.
Signs for Emery & Johnson Cycle Company and H.F. Emery Hardware.
I count three drug stores on this block, a dentist, an insurance agency, and whatever H.G. Edwards sold.
Two interesting stories here… on the left, the old DeLendrecie’s department store. At the time this photo was taken, it was only two stories (see photo top) but it would later have three more stories added. DeLendrecies moved from this building to the mall in 1973 and was purchased and turned into a Herberger’s store in 1998, ending a one hundred year run. The downtown DeLendrecies building has been redeveloped into the Block 6 apartment complex.
On the right, the Fargo Waldorf, a hotel that was ingeniously located directly across the street from the Northern Pacific depot. Like the DeLendrecies building, the Waldorf is yet to reach its full stature at the time of this photo — it’s four stories, but a fifth would be added later. The hotel was destroyed by fire on December 13th, 1951. Read more about the Waldorf at Fargo Moorhead Lost and Found.
Here’s the block as it looks today, occupied by trendy stores, coffee houses and a pizza joint. The street is considerably wider, and the former DeLendrecies building at the end of the block is now five stories. All things considered, it’s a small miracle that almost all of these buildings still stand.
If you have suggestions on historically significant North Dakota places that we should feature here, please feel free to contact us.
Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC
Troy Larson is an author, photographer, gentleman adventurer (debatable) from Fargo, North Dakota, and co-founder of Ghosts of North Dakota. @NorthDakotaTroy