To give some idea, though necessarily and inadequate one, of the rapid growth and present prosperity of the city, the following figures are given, showing the number of new buildings and the cost of improvements made during the past three years:
While many of these buildings were substantial business blocks, solid manufactories, and palatial residence, by far the greater number were the modest homes of mechanics, small tradesmen, and laborers. Sioux City is emphatically a city of homes. The possibility of securing a home of one’s own, owing to the moderate prices at which residence lots have been held, the prosperity of all classes, and the assistance given by loan and building associations, has been improved, and these have combined to make the city the Philadelphia of the West.
As well as being a center of wealth and business for a large section of country, Sioux City is the center of a large land interest and business. The location of a government land office at this city, one of the first prizes secured by the founders of the infant metropolis, ha naturally been followed by the centering of a large landed business at the city. The fertile acres in this part of Iowa were open to entry at $1.25 per acre for several years after being surveyed, and during the flush of times of 1856-7 hundreds of thousands of acres were entered by speculators in this part of the State. Then came the era of land grants to railroads, and these lands, as well as those of private speculators, were placed in the hands of Sioux City agents for sale. Among the resident proprietors of large landed estates may be mentioned T.J. Stone, Weare & Allison, D.T. Gilman, G.W. Wakefield, John Pierce and N.A. McFaul. The two latter, beside the lands which they own, are agents for non-resident and railroad lands, the former in selling the lands granted railroads in this part of Iowa, and the latter representing the Burlington and Missouri grant in Nebraska. The sales of these two firms alone amounted to several hundred thousand dollars during 1881.
It would be an error to suppose from the active demand for real estate that the country was becoming crowded. A careful study of the plats in the office of any Sioux City land dealer will show that not more than one-sixth of the land in Woodbury County has yet passed into the hands of the actual occupants. The county is capable of sustaining a population equal to that now scattered out over the entire northwest quarter of the State.
Source: Woodbury County Iowa, History of Western Iowa, 1882