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Barstow, Ca.

Metropolis on the Move

How a city transplanted its entire business district to locate on a new national highway.

Barstow's main street in 1924

Sunday Morning-Los Angeles Sunday Times-July 19, 1925
By Frank B. Howe

Saying nothing and pouring concrete is the modern version of administering the ancient adage about saying nothing and sawing wood, as practiced open Barstow, on the edge of the Mojave Desert, since the first of this year.

For although the fact has not been heralded to an interested world, the folks Barstow are just about to complete one of the most remarkable achievements yet on record in the history of American cities. They have moved literally and actually move the town a quarter of a mile!

And understand this right. It doesn't mean that the town has gradually grown toward a new location or that a new section has been opened up, or that Barstow has acquired a suburb or anything like that. What it does mean is that Barstow has picked up and moved its entire business section bodily, completely and en masse a good quarter of a mile from where it used to be. And Barstow is no tiny desert town. It has 30 or 40 stores; a large and growing population; and a bunch of merchants with plenty of foresight and ambition.

In fact it was these ambitious and courageous merchants brought about the town-moving proposition. Two conditions our largely responsible for the hegira. The first one is back that Highway was cut Barstow three blocks from the business section. The other fact that the old business district lies between the railroad passenger tracks in the freight yards.

The Barstow yards are used jointly by the Santa Fe and Union Pacific and handily very considerable volume of the transcontinental traffic. Hence the railroad was in the market for the land occupied by the business section of Barstow. The acquisition of this property would enable the freight and passenger yards to be united, Considerable trackage added, and shops and other necessary adjuncts built. Therefore, a ready market was provided for the property on which the old city stood.

Best Construction

So along in January Barstow began to get ready to start to commence to move. First one merchant, then another, and finally all but one or two had laid plans for new quarters. Sidewalks and curbs were put in. The stragglers rapidly came into line and in a short time the new business section was bustling and hustling with contractors and their gangs of men.

No slipshod construction would do-- reinforced concrete of the finest workmanship was the only thing that would satisfy the enthusiastic Barstow folks. Early in February one store was completed and the merchant moved it. Others followed in rapid succession. In another two months it is expected that the entire list will have moved.

At present there are only a very few unfinished buildings and these are undergoing the finishing touches. Some of the buildings in the old town have already been demolished and the ground cleared. The others will go soon. In a year at the most-- quite likely much sooner-- only the picture postcards will show the old Barstow.

National Old Trails Road

Union Pacific Railroad

Santa Fe Railroad

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