During the 1830s, a path appeared where Indian Creek flowed out of the loess hills at Caldwell’s Potawatomi village and led west across the Eight-Mile Prairie. A decade later, that path became Broadway through Mormon Kanesville where California-bound 49ers found anything for sale. Kanesville became Council Bluffs after 1852 as Broadway spread from Mud Hollow and Old Town past the Fourth Street Angle across a “sea of prairie grass and sun-flowers” to the ferries on the Big Muddy, the Missouri River. More changes came with the Northwestern, Union Pacific, and Illinois Central Railroads as Broadway evolved into the route of four U.S. highways. People went to work at World Radio, Woodward’s, and Omaha Standard, and notorious mobster Meyer Lansky ran greyhounds where stock cars later raced at Playland Park while teenagers cruised for hamburgers and entertainment.
Author Bio: These images from the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County and the Council Bluffs Public Library show Broadway’s transformation from dirt and wagons to automobiles and pavement as western trails grew into transcontinental highways. It is a street made for parades with more than its share of fires, floods, and car wrecks. The portraits in Council Bluffs: Broadway not only document the history of a community but also the crossroads of a nation. Dr. Richard Warner is a dentist in Council Bluffs, and Ryan Roenfeld is a local historian. Both serve on the historical society board of directors.
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