Cabarrus Walkways: First Sidewalks in Downtown Concord

12 Aug 2014

Ladies with parasols strolled the sidewalks and horse-and-buggy rigs plied the unpaved street in this postcard looking south on Union Street in Concord about 1908. Courtesy Julie Hanson Ganis.

The first reference to sidewalks in downtown Concord are found in the 1876 Town Council Minutes. By the late 19th-century, sidewalks not only provided a safe path for people to walk that was separated from the road, but they were also associated with urban sophistication. On August 13, Council received a petition calling for the widening and paving of East Depot Street (now Cabarrus Avenue) with sidewalk construction. On September 26, Council ordered two-foot-wide sidewalks to be laid out on each side of the street. Because may pages of the Concord Board of Commissioners/Town Council Minutes are lost, it is likely that the order to pave Union Street (also called Main Street) is not extant. Earlier record in 1838-1839 order street repairs, but the word “pavement” first appears in 1850.

In 1892-1893, in several columns, the Concord Daily Standard urged repairs and new sidewalk construction. The Town of Concord advertised for bids from January 17 to February 15 and accepted R. A. Brown’s bid, with a provision that he pay the town $25.00 (about $640 today) rent on the rock crusher used for brick sidewalks: “The cost will be but little if any greater than by the method proposed, and will be cleaner, nicer and decidedly more beautiful.” One week later, the Daily Standard reported, “The sidewalk from Kimmon’s Store to the corner of Depot and Union Streets is being paved with brick.”

By 1901, the new sidewalks were cement. Council Minutes for November 12, record the motion that “cement pavement would be put down between Corbin Street and Depot Street on Union Street.” Progress was not cheap, however; Council charged each property owner along the new sidewalk half he cost and required each owner to put in the curbing at his own expense.

Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Room