116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
When the Armstrong’s department store moved into its new 149,000-square-foot building at Third Street and Third Avenue SE in 1959, it was the largest building in downtown Cedar Rapids.
The $2.5 million building also incorporated cutting edge technology like escalators and an air door.
Store owner Robert Armstrong made a thrifty choice by buying German escalators — already assembled — and having them shipped to the store.
But the International Union of Escalator Constructors had agreements with major American vendors that all escalators had to be shipped unassembled. The union insisted upon disassembling and reassembling the escalators. In Europe, a typical installation took four days. In Cedar Rapids, it took about four weeks and 600 man-hours.
If you are interested in learning more about the department store that operated in Cedar Rapids for more than a century, visit The History Center’s new exhibition, Fashion and Philanthropy: The Armstrong Family.
Tara Templeman is curator at The History Center. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org