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The Lincoln Highway

As early as 1913, an organized coast-to-coast automobile route was established from New York to California. An association was formed to oversee and participate in its development to encourage the greater use of the automobile as a traveling option. The route—known as the Lincoln Highway in honor of the late president--came through Linn County, initially coming in from the east through the communities of Lisbon and Mt. Vernon, up to the then county seat of Marion and onward west to Cedar Rapids by way of First Avenue East heading to a crossing on the Cedar River. In the late 1910s, the 1884 built First Avenue bridge over the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids was closed for a demolition and replacement project that lasted several years, and the Lincoln Highway was rerouted to Second Avenue through the downtown Cedar Rapids area.


Due to the rerouting of the highway, residential properties along Second Avenue SE from Fifth Street to Tenth Street SE were quickly being redeveloped into commercial properties for automobile related businesses such as auto sales, repair, and service stations. By 1920, Second Avenue SE was dubbed "Automobile Row," and many of the "Mansion Hill" residences had been replaced. The Douglas Mansion is one of only five surviving residences from the old Mansion Hill neighborhood of 120 homes.

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