May 1989 – Iowa City Celebrates 150 Years!

(P-0258) (P-0261) Two Iowa City Sesquicentennial Postcards postmarked on May 4, 1989.

On May 4-5-6, 1989, Iowa City celebrated its 150th birthday. As we’ve reported in earlier blog posts, Iowa City began on May 4, 1839 when Chauncey Swan drove a stake into the ground – marking the location of Iowa’s new capitol building. Read more here.

Here’s the Schedule of Events for the big Sesquicentennial Celebration.

Click here to view the video from the Saturday, May 6th, 1989 parade…

Click here to read more about Herb Gartzke – keeper of the City Hall bell that helped celebrate Iowa City’s 150th anniversary in 1989.

In celebration of this special sesquicentennial event, The Iowa City Press Citizen published a special Sesquicentennial edition on Thursday, May 4th, 1989, which included a multiple-page overview of Iowa City’s rich heritage. Below are a handful of the many highlights within that special edition, which was divided into three 50-year sections (1839-1889), (1889-1939), and (1939-1989)…

The 1839-1889 section included articles on the following people. Click on links to read more:
Chauncey Swan
John Gilbert
Samuel Trowbridge
Bohumil Shimek
Robert Lucas
Charles Schaeffer
Samuel Kirkwood
Walter Terrell
Philip Clark
John Shrader
John P. Irish
Elizabeth Irish
Hugh Downey, (2)
The 1889-1939 section included articles on the following people/events. Click on links to read more:
Ewen MacEwen
Iver Opstad
Emma Havat
Benjamin Shambaugh
Carl Seashore
George MacLean
Howard Jones
Walter Jessup
Samuel W. Mercer & family
The 1939 Centennial Celebration
Click here to read more about Dr. Van Allen
Click here to read more about Helen Lemme
The 1939-1989 section included articles on the following people. Click on links to read more:
Fred Kent
Ned Ashton
Wilfreda Hieronymous
James Van Allen
Helen Lemme
Nancy Seiberling
E.F. Lindquist
Virgil Hancher
Minnette Doderer
Roy Carver
Francois Abboud
Paul Engle
Bump Elliott

Of course, scattered throughout this 27-page edition were countless ads from local businesses and organizations, such as these…

Mercy Hospital and John’s Grocery both have long histories in Iowa City.

In 1989, two new books on Iowa City were released, Gerald Mansheim’s Iowa City-An Illustrated History, and Irving Weber’s Iowa City-Volume 5.

All in all, the May 1989 Sesquicentennial Celebration in Iowa City was a pretty big deal.

(P-0394) Here’s a picture postcard featuring downtown Iowa City – circa 1989.

Another series of events was held in Iowa City for the 175th Anniversary in 2014. Though not as massive as the Centennial (1939) or Sesquicentennial (1989) Celebrations, a number of events were planned. You can read more about that 2014 celebration by linking to these two Iowa City Press Citizen articles…

Map: Iowa City looking dandy at 175 years of age, Mitchell Schmidt, Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 9, 2014

175 years – Iowa City to mark 175 years with 3-day celebration, Andy Davis, Iowa City Press Citizen, December 3, 2014

Click here to read about the Press-Citizen’s celebration of Iowa City’s Centennial in 1939.

Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Iowa City Sesquicentennial Parade -1989, Iowa City Public Library Channel

Our One Hundred Fiftieth Anniversary, Iowa City Press Citizen, May 4, 1989, pp 1, 37-64

Click here to go on to the next section…

Click here for a complete INDEX of Our Iowa Heritage stories…