The rise and fall of Center Street, 1945-1972

Date
2003-01-01
Authors
Gary, Thomas
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Abstract

The rise and fall of Center Street, 1945-1972, is the story of Des Moines African business district. Started in the early 1900's by the Negro Business League, the street became a vital part of the daily existence of African Americans in Des Moines. Center Street was the home of numerous clubs that catered to African Americans. In these clubs the greatest African American jazz and blues performers played. However, by 1959, freeway construction and urban renewal efforts brought an end to the street. The majority of the book covers the process used to procure the land for both the freeway and urban renewal projects. It also gives a voice to those who lived in the area. Through the use of newspaper clippings, government documents, and personal interviews, those who lived on Center during the urban renewal time period are given an opportunity to present their side.

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