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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Wooden sidewalks posed continuous maintenance problems. Photo: Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, KS
SIDEWALKS. Dubuque residents as early as the 1800s were held responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks in front of their property. The locations of sidewalks needing repair were listed in the newspaper. The width of sidewalks was debatable.

The fear of CHOLERA led to city-wide cleaning activities in 1866. Sidewalks were the focus of attention as well as ALLEYS. Residents were told to clear their sidewalks of boxes and rubbish so "as not to impede locomotion." (1)

Editorials of 1872 agreed with property owners on less traveled streets that sidewalks of six or eight feet in width were just as good as those constructed ten to twelve feet wide. On November 30, 1872 the Dubuque Herald announced a series of lots that would be sold to cover the cost of constructing sidewalks. (2)

The removal of snow was a particular focus of Mayor Christopher H. BERG.

In May 1901, Augustin A. COOPER was notified that he would have to appear and defend in the case brought against the city by a citizen injured on a defective sidewalk on the Cooper premises along West 5th. This was the first time the city had used its power to compel property owners to defend in cases of injury where the property owner had been negligent in keeping the sidewalks in good condition. (3) Repair of sidewalks resulted in unexpected problems. When removed during sidewalk repair old boards with nails were occasionally thrown into the street laming animals. (4)

Wooden sidewalks posed continuous maintenance problems for city residents during the 1800s. Residents were often slow in clearing areas near their homes and businesses.



1. "Clean the Sidewalks," Dubuque Herald, April 24, 1866, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18660424&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. "Sidewalk Sale," Dubuque Herald, November 30, 1872, p 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18721130&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Cooper Must Appear," Dubuque Daily Telegraph, May 1, 1901, p. 2

4. "Bad Practice," Dubuque Herald, September 123 1872, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18720912&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

Brick sidewalks are rare in the twentieth-first century.