I Street at 10th Street


This postcard shows I Street looking northeast toward 10th Street. Shafer's Department Store and Rogers Fountain are in the background. This is early in the 20th Century, with I Street a very obvious dirt track and many carriages and wagons parked in front of the buildings. Business signs are clear and readable.

San Francisco Fruit Market


This photo from Faces of Stanislaus offers a view of the San Francisco Fruit Market, which would eventually become Angelo's Market in 1955. The photo shows the original location at Ninth and I Streets in downtown Modesto. The photo was taken in 1913. Michael Angelo stands on the right.

Fire Department


The photo above shows the Modesto Fire Department's horse drawn fire wagons on their last run in 1919, the year the horses were retired. As the new century dawned, many of Modesto's old wooden structures were destroyed by fires that would engulf entire blocks.


The beginning of a new century brought prosperous growth to the city as the old made way for the new. New buildings and homes became a part of the city's prosperity in the early 1900s.

The photo postcard above shows I Street, near 10th, looking southeast. The Modesto Bank building, with the clock tower, is at 10th and I.

The building with the ornate front and a sign that reads "Buggies" is the 1874 Wood and Turner Building, forerunner of Turner Hardware. A photo of the opposite side of the street is shown top, left.

Prosperous Growth in a New Century

January 1, 1901 brought with it a new century which would mark, at its beginning, unprecedented growth for Modesto as Stanislaus County's commercial hub. The county seat was located in the middle of prime agricultural land which would become a breadbasket to the world since irrigation finally brought stable and varied crops to the fertile region.

The growth in these early years reflected the prosperity of the country as a whole. America's manifest destiny did not seem unjustified, and the fields of Central California helped fuel the idea that anything was possible for those with brawn or brain in the Golden State and beyond.

In the 1890s a series of fires destroyed the earliest buildings in Modesto, some of which had been brought to town at its founding from nearby Tuolumne City and Paradise. The final block of early structures located at 11th and I Streets went up in flames in November of 1901. Modesto was now a clean slate for new, modern structures as the forerunners of a booming downtown. Soon hotels, banks, offices, apartments, shops and entertainment venues would join the remaining existing structures, all becoming a retail and cultural magnet for the growing population. There were hospitals and churches to address the needs of body and soul, and early entrepreneurs built new businesses that flourished and grew with the bounty of the region.

The early years of the new century can be put into perspective by looking at the Fourth of July celebration in 1911. When reading Tinkham's account, think of "The Music Man" and its depiction of a similar celebration during the same period in River City (Mason City), Iowa:

"The natal day of the nation was celebrated in a splendid manner. The previous evening the band gave a concert in the courthouse park. Early in the morning an immense crowd began assembling from the surrounding country and plenty of amusements had been provided for their entertainment. In the afternoon there was an aeroplane flight, dancing, broncho busting, parade of 'horribles' and a carnival dance in the evening in Rodgers Hall. During the morning, following the parade, literary exercises were held in the plaza . . . with Miss Caroline Foley as reader of the Declaration of Independence, and Edward F. Taylor, poet and reader of San Francisco, as orator. During the exercises the chorus sang several patriotic selections, among them 'Hail to the Flag,' composed by the director of the chorus, Professor Twicher."

Next: 20th Century/Coming of Age

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