Do you recognize this intersection in the heart of downtown Dubuque? Captured in this image from 1897 stands Main Street, viewed looking northward toward 4th Street.

Of particular interest in this photo is the theater on the left. This corner is now home to Five Flags Theater, but the site has hosted entertainment venues as far back as 1847. In this photo, the theater marquee reads Bartels Theater, but the large sign on the 4th Street side advertises Bartells (with two L’s) Dramatic and Vaudeville Theater.

Imagine seeing a performance for just 10 or 15 cents! Architecturally, the 1897 theater doesn’t have much in common with today’s Five Flags; that building burned in 1910. Soon after, the Majestic Theater was built on this corner and it’s that building’s architecture that has been preserved and can be seen today at Five Flags.  

For those familiar with Dubuque, the buildings on the right side of the photo are no longer there. That corner has been occupied by the Holiday Inn since 1991. In the photo, the business on the corner of Main and 4th Street is D.C. Glasser Tobacco Company, which was incorporated in 1892 and remained at that location until at least 1923.

Note the streetcar in the road, which would have operated every eight minutes on Main Street in the 1890s. In the far background, the Town Clock is visible. The Dubuque Daily Times newspaper was also located on this block at 448 Main Street, which consolidated to eventually become the Telegraph Herald in 1927.

This photograph is just one of many published in Dubuque and Its Neighborhood: A Photographic Reproduction of One Hundred Beautiful Halftone Views of the Most Picturesque City in the West, Collected and Arranged by Harger & Blish, Booksellers and Stationers, Dubuque, 1897. The publishers, Harger & Blish, were actually located on the east side of the 400 block of Main Street, shown on the right side of this photo.