A city of essence and the importance of balance

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Reflecting upon Lincoln when it was young, John E. Miller wrote that in 1880 it was a proud place – but deficient of a few essentials of a city.

“What it lacked was at times conspicuous, as if a reveler should appear in shorts and a tuxedo.”

Like the city itself, Lincoln’s leaders of the time were young. The State’s Governor was 32. The city’s leading banker (and first millionaire) was 31. The average age in the legislature was 34. Youth literally ruled, and growth was rapid. To follow Miller’s tuxedo metaphor: the vibrant young city needed to upgrade from shorts to pants, so practical issues needed addressing.

An example: Formalities of staking out and connecting additions to the city’s perimeter were few, as no water or sewer utilities had to be planned.

As Mark Woods reflected,

“Sanitation was becoming a problem. Not everyone could keep a few hogs to eat the garbage.”

Mark, George and Frank Woods (clockwise)
Mark, George and Frank Woods (clockwise)

In 1889, Mark and George Woods founded Woods Bros Realty. When they entered the game with vision for growth, they not only planned for these types of practical matters, they also made certain that such intangibles as beauty and elegance were considerations of their projects.

They introduced curving streets to the city’s basic grid structure; they hired the nation’s best landscape architects; they even started their own nursery to fulfill their planting needs.

With their brother, Frank, and their father, “Colonel” F.M. Woods, their every touch seemed to positively mark the city and help it grow. They helped lead the way in business and community development.

Part of the reason that Lincoln became so fine is that they thought big, and they knew the importance of balance in establishing a city of essence.

From tallgrass prairie to silicon prairie, Lincoln continues to recreate itself. The decades of maturation have similarities because scales are balanced – growth and development equalizing tradition and maturity. Leading the way, Woods Bros Realty is an embedded fixture in the transformation of the city.

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