Norfolk At The Turn of the Century…
Results from the 1900 Federal census show Norfolk with a population of 46,624, an increase of more than 10,000 people from 1890’s population of 34,871.
News from the Norfolk Dispatch …
January – The Norfolk Dispatch appeals to the Norfolk Street Railway Company to put heaters in its streetcars “for the sake of the half-frozen motormen . . . and the shivering public.” In November, a fire destroyed nearly 50 streetcars in the Huntersville car barn, and replacement equipment is ordered from Philadelphia, hopefully, the Dispatch suggests, with electric heaters aboard.
April – Incumbent C. Brooks Johnston narrowly defeats challenger, Dr. James G. Riddick, in a bid for re-election as Norfolk Mayor.
28 May – Total eclipse of the sun, visible here for 90 seconds at 8:53 AM. The National Geographic Society sends a party of 250 from Washington to view the eclipse. President McKinley and his party also come down, and observe the eclipse from aboard the presidential yacht, the
Dolphin, anchored in the harbor.
8 June – The Virginian-Pilot newspaper issues a special 68-page “20th Century Edition” in addition to its regular paper of 12 pages.
September – With a vote of 13-1, the Norfolk School Board bars married women from teaching in Norfolk schools.
10 September – In Galveston TX, an estimated 6,500 lives are lost in a West Indian hurricane, called the greatest disaster in US history. Norfolk citizens rally to raise funds to aid the sufferers.
November – Incumbent William McKinley defeats William Jennings Bryant, to become the 25th United States President, although Bryant carries Norfolk. McKinley’s life will be ended by an assassin’s bullet in September 1901.
November – Miller, Rhoads & Company announces the opening of a large new department store on Main Street.
December – A new federal building opens at Atlantic and Plume downtown.
Norfolk citizens enjoy their first full year of clean drinking water, a result of a water filtration system installed at the Moores Bridges pumping station in October 1899. To help conserve the water supply against the rapid increase in use, water meters are proposed, but the suggestion meets with resistance.
Two telephone systems operate in Norfolk – Southern Bell and Southern States. Neither connects with the other, and it is necessary to subscribe to both companies and have two phones installed in order to get citywide service. Southern Bell charges $60.00 a year for office phones, $36.00 for residential phones, and an economy rate of $12.00 a year for phones with no bells, from which calls can be placed but not received. There is great demand for a unified system, but this will not be achieved until 1910, when Southern States sells to Southern Bell.
David Pender, newly arrived from North Carolina, opens
his first Pender’s grocery store.
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