In 1965, downtown Moorhead still existed, as you can see from the postcard shown here — a view from the Center Avenue Bridge looking east. But the popularity of West Acres Mall in Fargo instigated some developments that were of questionable judgement. In the postcard show here, you see dozens of buildings that no longer exist — the bulk of downtown Moorhead. In an ill-advised urban renewal project, most of downtown Moorhead was razed to make way for the Moorhead Center Mall and the new Moorhead City Hall. The new development was wholly inadequate to compete with West Acres and quickly declined into an urban ghost town.
Although the Moorhead Center Mall has been going through a mild resurgence over the last few years, there aren’t many who would defend its existence. One block to the south, Main Avenue has gone through an extensive renovation in an attempt to recapture some of the history and downtown feel that was lost when this area was demolished. In the postcard below, all the structures on the left side of the street, and a few on the right, are now gone. The former FM Hotel is the primary remaining landmark.
Today, there are more neighborhoods on the fringe of downtown Moorhead which are suffering from blight and absentee landlords, and a vocal group of local residents are pushing to have the properties demolished. Let’s hope cooler heads prevail. Moorhead has already lost enough of their history.
The same scene in 2011 is shown below.