The Decade When Sioux Falls Had A 370% Population Boom
Sioux Falls looks a lot different than when you were a kid. It's growing. And growing. And growing some more.
Some might say it's growing too fast, experiencing the ever-present "growing pains". Others say it's no wonder Sioux Falls is growing, it's a great place to live!
As a kid, I remember coming to Sioux Falls once or twice a year from our little farm by e Leota, Minnesota. At the time I figured this has to be the biggest town in the world. My goodness, the Kmart on Minnesota Avenue was just about as big as my hometown and yes, the town even had traffic lights, for cryin' out loud.
Now, of course, as Sioux Falls moves beyond 200,00 people we've become (gasp!) a city. Oh, we're not Minneapolis or Chicago yet but for most of us who've lived here, or in the area, for years and years, we pretty much have it all. The good and the maybe not-so-good.
Yep, no question about it, Sioux Falls has never grown this fast.
Wait a minute. Hold on there cowboy.
It's true we have great, continued growth. Why from 2000 to 2010 we grew an impressive 24.1%. Geez, that has to be the best ever!
No, no it's not. Not even close.
There was a decade, a ten-year period, where Sioux Falls, South Dakota USA grew... wait for it... wait for it...
No, that's not a misprint. 370.7%.
My goodness, what the heck happened?? Did Sioux Falls suddenly become a paradise destination? Did the weather suddenly become Honolulu on the Great Plains? Was Sioux Falls the spot where newlyweds finally found their dream?
Well, no. Actually, Sioux Falls was where newlyweds, and not-so-newlyweds, could come and get a quick divorce.
Oh, and the railroad showed up.
You see the decade we're talking about, the decade of the 'Population Boom' of 370.7%, was the 1880s when Sioux Falls went from a robust 2,162 in 1880 to an amazing 10,177 in 1890.
First: the railroad. If you think being at the intersection of Interstates 29 & 90 is a huge plus for population growth in Sioux Falls, that's nothing compared to when the railroad came to town in the "old days". The railroad was the interstate, airplane & auto of the day all rolled into one. Everything depended on the railroad. The railroad was life.
And the 'quick divorce' thing? Well, thanks to some new 1880s laws South Dakota made it quick and easy to get a divorce. The quickest in the nation. So if you wanted to get out of that "forever" union in a hurry, welcome to South Dakota in general and Sioux Falls specifically.
The nation (and Sioux Falls) went through a severe economic depression in the 1890s and that slowed down things... a lot. In the 1890s Sioux Falls grew by less than 1%. They, in effect, took a breather from growth.
But the 20th century (and the 21st) has been good for the greatest city in the nation, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
So now as we move past 200,000 folks and while we may continue to experience some of those growing pains, just think about the growing pains your ancestors went through in the 1880's...when this little Prairie Town grew by over 370% in ten short years!
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