Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
C. Blythe Ahlstrom
A history which records the weaknesses and failures of society may serve as its conscience. The history of Twenty-fifth Street in Ogden, Utah is that kind of history. It reminds us that it is possible for evil influences to prey upon society to the extent that it weakens and becomes vulnerable to the influence.
First the people became passive. They began to feel that the influence was there and there was little they could do about it. They then began ignoring it as if by doing so it would cease to exist. But it didn't disappear. Instead it grew and became so strong that eventually they were bound by its power. This is the story of Ogden's notorious "Two-Bit" Street. Serving as the gateway into Ogden City for those who stepped off the train, it began to cater to the appetites and desires of the people who traveled through Utah.
It all began in 1869 when the railroads were joined at Promontory. Gestations of prostitution, gambling, and narcotics (opium) were the direct results of the absorption of Corinne and many other railroad towns along the way by Ogden.
Realizing this, the people of Ogden struggled at first to prevent the ominous spectre haunting the city; but they soon became passive, and it wasn't long until the officials of the city were faced with the choice of either cleaning up the street or allowing it to remain. These authorities learned that by befriending those underworld leaders they could enjoy political strength enough to maintain themselves in power.
Finally, after eighty years of underworld prosperity, heroes who were courageous enough to challenge this power structure began to take steps to eradicate this influence. Uncertain of how it would work out and fearful of being politically and professionally destroyed, they nevertheless fervently attacked. Some were put down immediately; some made attacks, retreating when the pressure became great, later to return and renew the battle again. At first these were not the top leaders of the community, they were the men and women of the sheriff's and police departments. Finally, in the early 1950's these two departments began to harmonize their efforts; and with a change in leadership in city government, the crushing blow was made to Ogden's notorious "Two-Bit" Street.
What remains of the Street today is a partial skeleton of the past.
Barnes, Lyle J., "Ogden's Notorious "Two-Bit Street," 1870-1954" (1969). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 7733.