Central Avenue Between 5th and 9th Streets, Dubuque, Iowa

The downtown area of Dubuque is large, reflecting its historically large economy and importance in the lumber and woodworking business. Central Avenue is one of several north-south arteries that run between the Mississippi River and the bluffs, making the downtown area long and slender.

South of the Dubuque County Courthouse, there are some amazing buildings, and some interesting neon signs. The storefronts are occupied with different historic businesses.

Looking below, I’m intrigued by the first building; it looks like houses that are common in Chicago; obviously, while St. Louis received much of the finished goods from Dubuque, the city was much more oriented to the east over the railroad bridges across the Mississippi River.

As you can see, as well below, this house was probably always built as a two-family flat, with the second floor accessed via a staircase on the side in the two-story bay window.

While there are certainly areas demolished for superfluous parking lots, I was impressed by how much of the downtown area has not been ruined.

There are amazing commercial buildings of two or three stories in Dubuque, which sadly have mostly been demolished in St. Louis, such as the one below.

The buildings below are very old, looking much like some of the earliest stores and houses in Soulard; I suspect they may be from around the Civil War. Dubque is sometimes claimed to be the oldest city in Iowa.

The Second Empire storefront below with apartments below could come straight out of Benton Park West, if not for slightly different window lintels. I like how there are still buildings around the courthouse, and not acres of parking.

Moving north of the courthouse, the new jail is on the left, and the historic urban fabric breaks down a bit.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Evelyn says:

    This series on Dubuque is fabulous – so interesting. TipOf the Cap for sharing this architecturally rich city!
    I’m curious Chris, if not too personal how you discover this treasure?
    I’m a nature person so intend to figure out how to combine some nice nature areas with a Dubuqe road trip.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I have a friend from grad school who taught at one of the universities in Dubuque for many years before taking a job as a dean in Louisiana, so I visited him twice a while back. I came back in 2018 to see some friends’ band play after I had visited my family’s farm to the west.
      As far as natural wonders to see, the Missisippi River is extremely beautiful north of Dubuque, particularly near the Effigy Mounds:
      Galena, Illinois, where President Grant once lived, is also worth visiting.

  2. Evelyn says:

    Apologize for delay in replying Chris – I got so involved in following all the posts in this series that I forgot to look at my inquiry post. Interesting how you have the Dubuque connection. Thanks for the travel ideas – I surely hope to visit this unique area. And thanks again for sharing your travels!

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