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Yesterday in La Crosse

What could $5 million buy you, 48 years ago?

Brad Williams



In the summer of 1971, La Crosse’s city plan commission gave early approval to $5.1 million in improvement projects. Just one year earlier, La Crosse had built a new City Hall for only $2 million. The La Crosse airport said it needed its own fire station, so that DC-9’s and Boeing 737’s could use the facility. Another $37,000 was set aside for expanding Riverside Park, and $2000 was approved to hire a consultant, to look into moving the Myrick Park Zoo. Mayor Peter Gilbertson wasn’t sure there was enough public interest in having a zoo, especially one that didn’t charge admission.

City leaders were talking of building a freeway along La Crosse’s riverfront, following the Burlington Northern rail line. A proposed underground freeway could cost $31 million, while an elevated highway through downtown might cost twice that amount.

In ’71, an above-ground swimming pool for your back yard cost $600, if you bought it at Montgomery Ward. On the other hand, an inflatable wading pool was priced at just one dollar, at the Gambles store on Pearl Street. Hot weather deals, 48 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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