Ten years ago in Iowa City: July 2003

Iowa City's Ped Mall -- photo by Alan Light
By virtue of the university, Iowa City is a town that is inherently dynamic — photo by Alan Light

Lets talk a bit about what was happening in Iowa City ten years ago.

A decade is a nice piece of time to look back upon ‘things as they were,’ and thanks to Iowa Research Online’s archive of Little Village back issues, we’re provided with a convenient frame of reference for doing just that.

Below you’ll find a number of brief excerpts from our July 2003 issue followed by links to the full article PDFs. There’s nothing particularly special about July 2003, but that’s also part of the appeal! Those subtle, seemingly forgettable changes add up over the years. So, lets take a look at Iowa City as it was exactly one decade go.

Ten years ago…

…We weren’t happy about the war

The Iraq War was just a few months underway in July 2003, and not everyone in Iowa City was pleased. The “shock and awe” strikes of late March and subsequent invasion may seem murky in light of the years-long quagmire that followed, but E.C. Fish’s column titled “Some of the people, all of the time,” reminds us of a time when the anti-war sentiment was as fiery as it ever was.

Iraq War
“Some of the people, all of the time” – Story by E. C. Fish – Page 4

Read the full article

…The Old Capitol Dome made its post-fire debut

Contractors using open flame torches and heat guns inadvertently set fire to the dome of the Old Capitol in 2001, causing extensive damage and creating one of the most surreal sights in recent Iowa City history (though the 2006 tornado and 2008 floods offer up some tough competition).

By early 2003, the dome’s restoration was finally complete, and columnist Thomas Dean — who has been writing for Little Village since 2001 — pays tribute to nuanced features of the Old Capitol that we likely take for granted in 2013.

Old Capitol remembered
“It’s a grand new flag” – Story by Thomas Dean – Page 5
"It's a grand new flag" - Story by Thomas Dean - Page 5
“It’s a grand new flag” – Story by Thomas Dean – Page 5

Read the full article

…We thought The Mill was shutting down

In 2003, we wrote that The Mill would be forever shutting its doors. To be fair, Keith Dempster — the restaurant and venue’s original owner — did close The Mill in June of 2003. The Mill re-opened just a month later, however, around the same time our article in question was circulating across newsstands and storefronts throughout Iowa City.

The Mill
“Last call at The Mill” – Story by Adam Witte – Page 12

Despite the awkward turn of events (for us, at least), the brief closing prompted a eulogy of sorts from writer Adam Witte. Written under the assumption that The Mill would soon be an empty storefront, Witte recounts numerous tales as told by The Mill’s most cherished regulars. It’s a rare and truly intimate glimpse at The Mill of old, lost to most, yet archived here by Witte in the pages of Little Village. Long live words!

The Mill 2003
“Last call at The Mill” – Story by Adam Witte – Page 12

Read the full article

…The “Save the Englert” campaign was in full force

For those unaware of The Englert Theatre’s legacy in Iowa City, the venue’s own website has a great synopsis. For the purpose of this article, all you need to know is that in July 2003, several years into the community-supported “Save the Englert” campaign, the venue was still more than a year away from re-opening. In the excerpt below, a Yacht Club calendar listing makes reference to this successful campaign.

Yacht Club calendar listing - Page 17
Yacht Club calendar listing – Page 17

…Beer was cheaper, because of course it was

This isn’t exactly news, but are these 1993 prices or what? 25 cent happy hour beers are the stuff of nightmares for 2013’s Iowa City City Council. This particular ad belonged to Gabe’s Oasis, which later became The Picador, which later became…Gabe’s.

Cheap Beer
Beer ad for Gabe’s – Page 20