Sunday, August 1, 2010

Why Another Piece of Cedar Rapids History Bites the Dust


The iconic Wilson Packing smokestack in 42N country's Cedar Rapids fell this week after demolition debate concluded that the cost of preservation was not affordable. This flood recovery community continues to wrestle with saving remnants of the past while creating a base for new use.

Underneath the black and white painted, WILSON CO. lettering on the smokestack were raised bricks that spell out the original owner of the meatpacking plant, T.M. Sinclair. All of that came down this week with only an engraved cornerstone saved for the city's History Center.

Generation of immigrants, many from Bohemia (at the time) came to Cedar Rapids during the 1860s - 1920s to live near and work at this plant. Several business developed near the Sinclair property supporting the commerce and residential neighborhoods. Today the area adjacent to the plant's main gates have been revitalized as restaurants and bars on Third Street.

With demolition of the Sinclair smokestack and adjacent plant buildings perhaps future land use will incorporate something linking the site to historical contributions that the food producing factory offered a young city and nation. Know that.