When the Zerschling family went out to dinner in the 1950s and 1960s, we dressed in our Sunday best.
It was a rare treat to dine at Green Gables or the Arcadia restaurant. Mom and Dad sometimes celebrated their anniversary at Joe Gantz Steakhouse.
Only the Gables, which opened in 1929 at 1800 Pierce St., remains of those venerable establishments that served thousands of meals through the years. They all operated on Pierce Street.
Now, the restaurants, homes, businesses, churches, shops and medical clinics from 29th Street south to Eighth Street have something else in common – they 're in the proposed Pierce Street Corridor District. That area covers 65 city blocks and runs from Jackson Street on the east to Douglas Street on the west.
A 44-page document offers a blueprint for future improvements. On Monday, the City Council deferred discussing the study in order to give the city’s Historic Preservation Commission an opportunity to review it. Some of the turn-of-the-last-century homes and other buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of those is the former Shaare Zion Synagogue, at 1522 Douglas St., which was built in 1927. Mount Olive Baptist Church bought the building in 1994, but declining membership meant the congregation could not afford to fix leaks in the roof. City Christian Church now occupies the building now.
Like the synagogue, other buildings have been repurposed. The Arcadia, at 1322 Pierce St., closed in 1974 and is now home to a beauty salon. In the 1980s, Joe Gantz Steakhouse, at 1222 Pierce St., housed the Candleglow and Golden Dragon restaurants. Coldwell Banker operates there now.
The northern section of the corridor is anchored by the sprawling St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center campus. I remember when there was no St. Luke’s. The Methodist Hospital, at 28th and Douglas streets, and Lutheran Hospital, at 27th and Pierce streets, were separated by a neighborhood of homes, a gas station and Kalin’s 5 and Dime.
I played at the home of my chum, Pat Parks, who lived with her family and a menagerie of animals -- including a monkey -- in the 2800 block of Pierce Street. My parents were good friends with Mr. and Mrs. Chris Larsen, local civic leaders, who lived nearby.
The Jewish Community Center, at 14th and Nebraska streets, now is the Midtown Community Center. The Siouxland Community Health Center, at 1021 Nebraska St., was built where the original Boulevard food store once stood.
The changing demographics of the city can be spotted in a number of Asian and Mexican businesses – a pool hall, hair salon, laundromat and restaurants. Central High School, built in 1892, now houses the Castle on the Hill apartments.
The commercial areas at 20th and 27th and Pierce streets remain. The former Soo Thrifty Drug store, at 2627 Pierce St., soon will disappear from the landscape, along with adjoining buildings that once housed a florist, beauty salon, barber shop and branch post office. They will be razed to make way for an expanded Hy-Fee Drug Store.
In any neighborhood, change can be sudden and dramatic or slow and almost imperceptible -- but it is inevitable.