Dancing on city's first paved street

The viaduct is still in use.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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Jamestown got its first paved street in 1920.

It probably got its first pothole in 1921.

The paving work was a big enough deal to make a front-page story on Aug. 19, 1920. At the time, the plant to process and heat the paving materials was near completion alongside the Northern Pacific tracks.

Once it was complete, the crews started the paving work along what was then referred to Main Street near the viaduct and depot.

Main Street has since been renamed First Street South and runs along the south side of the railroad tracks through Jamestown.


The viaduct is still in use and the area there and around the depot probably had among the heaviest traffic in the city of Jamestown.

Paved roads existed in larger cities around the world as early as the middle of the 19th century. In the United States, the number of paved roads increased hand-in-hand with the increase in the number of automobiles in use.

Both of those industries were booming by the early 1920s.
In those early days, a concrete foundation was covered by a layer of bitulithic pavement.

Those first paved streets must have been considered a big deal by the folks in Jamestown.

When work was wrapping up, the community organized its first street dance to be held on pavement. The event was held on Front Street, now First Street North, between what is now First Avenue and Second Avenue.

In other words, probably in front of the current location of the Central Valley Health District building.

Added to the paved street was a bandstand large enough for a 15-piece orchestra and extra street lights so everybody could see who they were dancing with.

“The paving will be thoroughly cleaned and sprinkled with cornmeal to make dancing easy,” added the editor of The Jamestown Alert.
It had to beat dancing on an old gravel road with or without cornmeal on it.


Author Keith Norman can be reached at

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