An Early Description of Monroe


            This article was found in the 1893 Worlds Fair Edition of the Monroe Evening News.  It paints a glowing picture of Monroe just on the edge of what would become a phenomenal period of growth for the sleepy little town.

            Monroe, the parish seat of Ouachita parish, with a population of 7000, is in every respect one of the most inviting cities of the South, and while it has been long established, and was for many years regarded as “sleepy,” it has always been noted for the beauty of its situation, its elegance and its polished society.  Of late years it seems to have been aroused from its lethargic slumber, and is now a hustling, wide-awake city, one of the manufacturing centers of the State.  Its commercial importance, its opulent surroundings, its numerous manufactories, established and shortly to be established, its earnest and energetic citizens, beautiful shady streets, charming residences and handsome and costly public buildings, place it alongside of and make it the peer of any city of the same size in the South.

            A magnificent iron bridge spans the Ouachita river and connects it with West Monroe, thus giving it free and easy connection with this live and hustling city, and furnishing accommodation for the outlying agricultural districts.

            This bridge is a fine iron structure, resting on brick piers, the draw near the center of the stream admitting of the passage of the largest steamers.

            Built by the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad Company for their own use, at a cost of $160,000, it is also used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and foot passengers, and is a free bridge during daylight hours.

            Since its completion in 1883 it has been in the care of W.W. Renwick, Esq., who also attends to the river gauge, and is United States Signal service observer.

            The steady increase in the business of Monroe, coming, as much of it does, from a great distance west and northwest, makes another bridge at this point, in the not far distant future, an absolute necessity.

            Perhaps no city in our State is now enjoying a more steady and solid growth than is Monroe.

            Capitalists from all directions, appreciating the ultimate greatness of the Parlor City, have not hesitated to make large investments here.  The visitor cannot be otherwise than favorably impressed with what he sees.

            Our streets are wide and airy, handsomely laid out and beautifully shaded.  The private residences are noted for their beauty and elegance, many of them being nested amid cool groves of oak, while others are embowered amid shrubbery of the rarest beauty.  Many of our business houses are models of architectural taste and beauty.

            Because of the mildness of its atmosphere, even in midwinter, Monroe is fast attracting the attention of those who are anxious to avoid the rigors of the snow-clad hills and icebound lakes of the far North.  It is the natural gathering place of the producers in the adjacent districts, and its easy accessibility to the coast, both by rail and water, enables it to command the luxuries of the tropics.

            The site of Monroe is admirably adapted to the wants and capabilities of a large city, and it is rapidly improving in every direction.  Within the last twelve months hundreds of vacant lots have been adorned with handsome structures, and the limits of the city greatly extended.

            Monroe is lighted with electricity and supplied with the finest artesian water which will be found flowing pure and copiously into every section.  The mains have recently been laid, the stand towers built, and the machinery is placed in position, and before this issue is circulated water will be flowing through miles of piping to every portion of the city.

            Our immense wholesale establishments supply a large portion of Northern Louisiana and Southern Arkansas with goods.

            Recently a franchise has been granted a company to build an electric railway, and this is to be in operation within less than twelve months. [This would not become a reality until thirteen years later.  After many starts and stops due to Yellow Fever, Monroe’s streetcar line began operation in 1906.]

            Railroads run in four different directions from the city, connecting it with the four cardinal points of the compass, and the Ouachita river is navigable in both directions.

            The industries of the city are annually multiplying, and already include quite a number of such as oil mills, sash door and blind factories, saw and planning mills, brick manufactories, iron works, machine shops, a cotton compress, a stave factory; more complete descriptions of the majority of these enterprises appearing elsewhere in this issue.  Pictures of the buildings used and occupied by various of our manufacturing establishments are also scattered through our pages.

            There is shortly to be erected here a 10,000 spindle cotton factory, and a furniture factory.

            The capital stock of the last two enterprises has already been subscribed, and there is no longer any question about their early location here.

            With its unusual facilities for transportation, its freedom of religious worship, unprecedented educational advantages, and its enterprise and push; surrounded by lands which are highly favorable to market gardening and truck farming, all of which are being more and more improved; there is nothing that can hold back the Parlor City, and we confidently assert that within less than five years this will be a thriving hustling city with 20,000 souls.

            Great inducements are offered to men of what ever craft, and a cordial welcome will be extended settlers who desire to locate their homes in our midst.  Great natural advantages are offered, which, coupled with the social benefits already enumerated, under well directed energy cannot fail to attract those who are seeking homes in the South.

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