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THE METHOD

From the archives: Establishing the past

  • 1 min to read
From the archives: Establishing the past

There are photographic treasures buried all around town — in your family albums, shoeboxes or maybe on that top shelf in your closet. Here at the Missourian, our treasure lies in the newsroom library, or morgue, as our industry likes to refer to our past work. In addition to news clippings, we have folders full of photographs filed by topic and person.

We’d like to share some of these photos with you.

Welcome to “From the Archives,” where our goal is to dip into the sea of photos, folder-by-folder, and share with you the rediscovery of our past — whatever that may look like.

We also ask you, dear reader, to look into your own family albums or shoeboxes and email us photos that might surprise us. You may have scenes and people that have helped define us. Email photos to photoed@missouri.edu. The stories behind the photos are just as important, so if you know more about the image, please tell us.


From the town’s beginning, when Smithton company settled near Flat Branch Creek, to today, with a population greater than 123,000, Columbia’s growth, urbanization and other changes have been constant. This search through the archives centers around downtown and the pursuit of commerce.

Looking east on Broadway, Columbia had the appearance of a ghost town as the first light of dawn broke through the cloud cover

Looking east on Broadway, Columbia had the appearance of a ghost town as the first light of dawn broke through the cloud cover Sept. 5, 1974. In 1968, the city installed canopies over the Broadway sidewalks to protect pedestrians from the hot temperatures and pigeons, boosting the businesses just as the lighting system did. After the removal of the canopies, the city planted trees and improved streetlights. 

Carriage rides are only part of the activities that happened every night in June at the Downtown Twilight Festival

Carriage rides are only part of the activities offered every night in June 1991 at the Downtown Twilight Festival. The cultural event was created by the Central Columbia Association in the ‘90s to bring more people downtown. The event would happen every Thursday of June and September, ending in 2008. It ran from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and showcased the downtown business community.

At 2 a.m. Dan Damtzler pumped gas for a Denver couple enroute to the east coast

Dan Damtzler pumped gas for a Denver couple en route to the East Coast at 2 a.m. on Sept. 5, 1974. Damtzler worked the midnight to 8 a.m. shift at Darrel’s Texaco. The gas station, which used to be at Business Loop 70 W. and West Blvd, doesn’t exist anymore. Columbia’s central location and proximity to I-70 has made it a place for road trippers to stop and rest.

Christmas lights glimmered above traffic on Broadway, as seen from the roof of the Rodeway Inn

Christmas lights glimmered above traffic Dec. 19, 1990 on Broadway, as seen from the roof of the Rodeway Inn. To this day, businesses around downtown still traditionally put up Christmas lights every year.

A decorative lighting system recently has been installed in parts of downtown Columbia

Lenord Kreissler examined the new lights between Seventh and Eighth streets on Broadway on Sept. 25, 1975. A decorative lighting system had recently been installed in parts of downtown Columbia, part of a plan to make the downtown area more attractive. 

The widening of the intersection of West Boulevard and Broadway

Cars drive through the intersection of West Boulevard and Broadway on Sept. 23, 1992. The widening of this intersection had been under consideration for seven years by city government. Construction would start in spring 1993. The Great Hang-Ups Framing on the right is where Diggit Graphics now stands.

Earl Goslin, 83, used a push mower to trim his yard at 400 N. Eight St.

Earl Goslin, 83, used a push mower to trim his yard Sept. 5, 1974, at 400 N. Eight St. A retired handyman at the time, he had lived in the house for more than 30 years with his wife. The house still stands as it is in the photo, but it is currently vacant.

Columbia's main street takes on new look after evening sun goes

Broadway takes on a new look after the evening sun goes down May 31, 1959. This photo comes from a bigger project, documenting life after dark downtown. One of the biggest draws to the area at the time was the “carnival-like stream of lights from store windows and moving automobiles,” according to text published with the photographs.

Dan Bryson, left, and Pat Karl replaced an insulator for a 161,000-volt on a 100-foot pole near South Drive and Oakland Gravel Road

Dan Bryson, left, and Pat Karl replaced an insulator for a 161,000-volt line on a 100-foot pole near South Drive and Oakland Gravel Road on May 14, 1992. The two men worked for the Columbia Water and Light Department. You can still see some poles at the location in the present.

A Columbia neighborhood near the old Brown Shoe Factory where demolition would take place for urban renewal

A Columbia neighborhood near the old Brown Shoe Factory near College Avenue and Wilkes Boulevard, where demolition would take place for urban renewal, in July 1968. Proponents of the urban renewal program said that revitalizing Sharp End, the business district for Black Columbia in the era of Jim Crow, would increase the quality of life for people living in poverty and segregation. However, it destroyed the locations of many Black businesses in town.

This aerial view of South Ninth Street looked to the University Medical Center buildings

This aerial view of South Ninth Street looked to the University Medical Center buildings Feb. 24, 1956. Downtown and the MU campus have changed over the years. Places like Speaker’s Circle were built, replacing parts of roads like Conley Avenue.


The Method is the Columbia Missourian's photography and multimedia blog. In writing about pictures, it seeks to demystify how our journalists cover their community and place their work in the context of a larger visual world.

  • Fall 2020 Photo Editor, majoring in International Photojournalism. Reach at mpsbb7@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

  • Assistant Director of Photography at the Columbia Missourian. Previously photo editor, staff photographer, reporter. Reach me at madiwinfield@mail.missouri.edu or at @madiwinfield on Instagram and Twitter.

  • I'm the Director of Photography working close with staff photographers, videographers, photo editors and designers to help our stories become visually exciting. Follow us on Instagram: comissourian

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