The postcard below was mailed in 1909 and depicts Front Street (Center Avenue) in Moorhead in a view unrecognizable today.
Whether by fire or the wrecking ball, all of the structures shown above are gone, including Kiefer’s store on the left, and the studios of O.E. Flaten, who was perhaps the most renowned photographer in early Fargo-Moorhead, and one of the only photographers to capture photos of the Great Fargo Fire of 1893. Below: The scene as it appeared in 2016 at the intersection of Center Avenue and 4th Street. The Moorhead Center Mall and City Hall complex is on the left.
Front Street, Main Avenue, and Center Avenue in Moorhead and Fargo have a confusing history. In Fargo, the main throughfare was known as Front Street and the name was later changed to Main Avenue. In Moorhead, though, Center Avenue, one block to the north, was known as Front Street. Mark Peihl, Archivist at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, explains:
“Folks were confused as they crossed the Front Street bridge from Fargo to Moorhead but found that Front Street was a block north. I don’t have the exact date, but around 1923, Moorhead changed Front Street to Center Avenue. What is now Main Avenue in Moorhead was originally Main Street, then for a long time 1st Avenue South and finally, Main Avenue.”
In the above postcard from 1965, we see the same view of Center Avenue from a vantage point on the bridge, a little further west than the 1909 scene shown at the top of the page. To most, this was considered downtown Moorhead. The FM Hotel is the only major major landmark still standing today. In a project that was in keeping with the “urban renewal” philosophies of the day but since recognized as ill-advised, many of the buldings on the left side of the street were razed to make way for the mall and new city hall.