Downtown Council Bluffs covers several blocks, and there’s one particular block that stands out above the rest: The Historic 100 Block of Broadway. Keep reading to learn why you’ll want to plan a stop to this district in Council Bluffs, and the things you can do while there.
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Brief history of the 100 Block of Council Bluffs
Council Bluffs has a rich history thanks to its place in railroading history and the pioneer trails that passed through the area. After Iowa became a state in 1846, Council Bluffs was known as Kanesville, since Mormon pioneers set up their winter encampment in the area from 1846 to 1847. In 1852, the Mormons continued westward to Utah and the city was renamed Council Bluffs. The new name is a nod to the area’s connections to the Lewis & Clark Expedition, in which the explorers sat in council with members of the Otoe Tribe on a nearby bluff.
This unique little block of Broadway, was developed from the mid-1850s to 1928, and the brick structures (at least on the north side of the block) reflect that era’s architectural styles including Italianate and Neoclassical. The economic boom of Council Bluffs during that era is largely thanks to the Transcontinental Railroad.
In 2002, the 100 Block of Council Bluffs was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The north side of the block is what has maintained the historic integrity of the district, but both sides of the 100 Block of Broadway boast some great spots to visit.
Restaurants in the 100 Block
Back in my cub reporter days I used to work in downtown Council Bluffs at The Daily Nonpareil, located just a few blocks west of the 100 Block. Unwittingly, I wasn’t aware of this cool little stretch of C.B. for several months, not until the company held a party at Barley’s, one of the bar & grills located there.
I was pleasantly surprised to find such a gem of a street so near my office. That was a few decades ago, just at the start of the 100 Block’s revival. It the little street has even more reasons to visit.
Barley’s is still there, but with it, a few other restaurant greats have been added, including Lincoln’s Pub and one location of the city’s popular pizzeria, Pizza Counter. I like the pizza at Pizza Counter but the atmosphere there leaves a lot to be desired. Get your pizza to go.
Caddy’s Kitchen and Cocktails is located on the south side of the 100 Block, and it has built a name for itself because of its brunches and over-the-top cocktails. It’s a good place for going out to eat with the family.
For sweet treats, J’s Coffee & Donuts is a good choice.
Things to do at night around the 100 Block
Nighttime along the Historic 100 Block is mainly for the 21 and older crowd. Bars make up the majority of nightlife hot spots on the block. In addition to Barley’s and Lincoln’s Pub, there’s Glory Days Sports Bar & Restaurant, Maloney’s Irish Pub, and 1892 German Beer House (or Bier House…this is the place to go if you dare tackle a boot of beer). There are several more bars along the block, too. I just named a few.
I love bars with an outdoor patio, and a few along the 100 Block offer it. Two that come to mind are 1892 German Beer House and Maloney’s Irish Pub.
Shops to visit in along this historic street
There aren’t a whole lot of shopping options on the Historic 100 block, but luckily, one of the city’s best boutiques is there. I love a good boutique, and things don’t get much better than Dusted Charm. The store sells women’s apparel, home goods, and an assortment of unique gifts.
Attractions near the 100 Block of Council Bluffs
You’d think being a historic collection of buildings, there’s be some interesting attractions or historic landmarks along the 100 Block. Not really. You can appreciate the architecture, yes, but if you’re looking to dive into Council Bluffs history, you’ll need to venture just a few blocks away from there.
Located less than a mile away
- Bayliss Park, 100 Pearl St. Small green space in the heart of downtown Council Bluffs, with a center fountain with light displays, a spray pad for children, a performance space, and gardens.
- The Bregant Home, 517 S. Fourth St. Called “The Doll House” when it was constructed in the early 1900s, the diminutive home tells the story of its famous inhabitants.
- Historic General Dodge House, 605 S. Third St. General Grenville M. Dodge was a major figure in Council Bluffs history. He was a Union Army general, politician, and a major figure in the development of the railroads across the American West. Built in 1869, the mansion is open for tours.
- The Hub Trampoline Park & Ninja Warrior Course, 7 S. Fourth St.
- Squirrel Cage Jail, 226 Pearl St. Built in 1885, this once-revolving jail has been preserved and listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it’s a three-story lazy susan jail structure, and the only remaining one in existence that’s three stories tall.
- Union Pacific Railroad Museum, 200 Pearl St. The museum showcases artifacts and insider knowledge that tell the story of the Union Pacific Railroad. The museum is free to visit.
Located 1 to 2 miles away
- Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center, 1001 S. Sixth St. Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment (PACE) developed and manages the Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center. It is the home for multiple nonprofits including PACE, Chanticleer Community Theater, Kanesville Symphony Orchestra, American Midwest Ballet, and Kitchen Council, as well as art galleries and McCormick’s 1894.
- Rails West Railroad Museum, 1512 S. Main St. A railroad museum operated by the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County that includes an outdoor rail car display.