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Yesterday in La Crosse

Bags over the parking meters, 38 years ago

Brad Williams



In November of 1981, a year after the opening of Valley View Mall, La Crosse tried an experiment to keep shoppers coming downtown.  The city council considered a one-year suspension of nearly 700 curbside parking meters, and later reduced that to a three-month trial.  Eventually, all the city-owned meters were removed, and were kept in storage until a sale a few years ago.  When bags were placed on the meters to allow two-hour free parking, some drivers thought parking was banned in those spaces, and they tried to park somewhere else. 

The Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium was empty and unused, a year after being replaced by the La Crosse Center.  But the center board voted to rent the Sawyer to the Blue Stars drum and bugle corps for $5000 a year.  The Sawyer eventually was torn down in 1988 to make way for a La Crosse County juvenile facility and health department building.

Gas prices in La Crosse averaged $1.29 a gallon in the fall of ’81.  Some of the lowest prices for regular gasoline could be found at Frank-Len on N. 3rd St., the Clark gas station on Lang Drive, and the Citgo Quick Mart on West Avenue near campus.  Cheap gas in 1981, yesterday in La Crosse.

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