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Sioux Falls–My, How You’ve Grown!


The announcement by Sioux Falls City officials about the city’s population made me realize: The city is twice the size of the one I moved to 38 years ago.

When I moved here from Huron to take a television job in January 1975, one of the population figures being used was 81,000. It seemed like a lot of people, and I guess for 1975 in South Dakota, it was.

The mayor was an ex-radio guy named Knobe, but that’s for another time.

And at the risk of sounding like an old geezer, the eastern edge of the city, at least the part I lived in, was Sycamore Avenue (usually called Sycamore Drive then). Most of the retail, but not all, ended at Cleveland Avenue, where Old US 16 angled off and went east, past the bakery, the cemetery, the old Stardust Club and a long-vacant gas station, the name of which escapes me(Skyline Service?).

And downtown was dying, no question about it, with the ill-fated pedestrian mall and too many empty buildings. Contrast that with the vibrant core now, a pleasant place to shop, dine and increasingly, live.

The Empire mall was under construction when I got here, and the growth is mind-boggling not only in that part of the city but pretty much everywhere else.

By and large, we’ve pretty much grown consistently, although there were a few years when the economy and everything else mostly stagnated.

Of course, bigger isn’t always better, but the people who run Sioux Falls have been really conscientious about planning and managing the growth. Crime can rise with growth, and you might say it has, but so has law enforcement, with modern methods and attitudes about interacting with people.

And let’s not forget how some of the growth here has come at the expense of small towns and rural areas. It’s simply a fact of life in South Dakota, where people have gravitated to larger cities.

So pat yourself on the back, but don’t stop for too long. The future is ahead and, right now, it looks pretty good.

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