A while back, I came across this old postcard of downtown Grand Forks. The postcard is used and the postmark is from 1946, so I'm guessing that's around the time this picture was taken. In other words, this means that we're looking at downtown Grand Forks as it appeared 60 years ago...right after the end of the war and before the time of "urban renewal".
When I look at the picture, I can see many of the same landmarks that are still standing to this day. You can probably pick out obvious structures like Central High School and the Courthouse. I can see many other familiar faces, too. The old First National Bank building is still downtown. So is the old Griffith's Department Store, St. Johns Block, and the Ryan Hotel.
However, it's clear that, while much of downtown looks close to the way it did 60 years ago, much has changed as well. Look in the back of the picture...where's the Kennedy Bridge? It isn't there yet. Where are the parking ramps? They wouldn't come for years. The old library would stand for a couple more decades before the first ramp would be built on that property. Other unfamiliar sights to us include the old Security Building on the north side of downtown. The fire which would devastate downtown 50 years later would start in the Security Building. How about all those buildings so close to the river? They would slowly vanish over the coming years and the flood would have the final say.
It might be confusing for some to look at the old postcard and pick out individual buildings and areas. That's why I made up this annotated version...
It's interesting to look at some of the areas that I have boxed off. These show whole sections of downtown that have succumbed to "urban renewal", new developments, or disaster over the years. Clearly, a good portion of downtown circa 1946 is no more. Kind of fascinating, huh?
(BTW, If you want to get a closer look at the pictures, just click on them.)