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History » Then and Now: Re-Photographing Missoula » Higgins and Front
THEN ~ Higgins Ave. & Front St.

Higgins and Front - thenHiggins Avenue at Front Street looking north, about 1925. Missoula had horse-drawn streetcars as early as 1890; the cars were electrified in 1910. Downtown streets, formerly rivers of alternating dust and mud, were paved with brick in 1912-1913. The second Florence Hotel, built in 1913 after the original 1888 building burned, appears on the left. The Missoula Mercantile Company’s main building, constructed from 1874 to 1910 and housing one of Missoula’s most important businesses, appears on the right. The streets are full of shoppers. (90-463, Stan Healy Photographs, K. Ross Toole Archives, The University of MontanaMissoula)



NOW ~ Higgins Ave. & Front St.

Higgins and Front - nowBoth continuity and change characterize this intersection. The second Florence Hotel burned in 1936, to be replaced by the present structure in 1941. It was a hotel until 1975, when it was remodeled into offices, leaving the exterior intact. Allied Stores purchased the Missoula Mercantile in 1959. By 1970 it became the Bon Marche, then Macy’s in 2005. Missoula’s streetcar system took its last run in January 1932; smooth pavement replaced brick streets in the 1940s and 1960s. Area business owners responded to economic downturn in the 1970s by concentrating on revitalization and preservation. The downtown historic district remains a destination, and Missoula has received national recognition for preserving historic properties. (Photo by Marcy James, 2006)

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