The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
Palmerston North is the largest and most important inland town in the North Island. It lies eighty-seven miles north-east from Wellington, in the county of Kairanga, and is 103 feet above the level of the sea. It is the junction of three main lines of railway— the Wanganui-New Plymouth, Wellington-Manawatu, and Woodville-Na-pier, besides the short line to Foxton, which latter place may be said to be the port of Palmerston North. The population of the borough at the census of 1906 was 10,239, which showed an increase of 3,705 on the previous census of 1901. The town was constituted a borough in 1877, five years after the real beginning of settlement. Mr. G. M. Snelson, the first mayor of Palmerston North, held office from the inception of the borough until 1880, and was successively followed by Messrs, J. Linton, F. Jensen, A. Ferguson, L. J. West, S. Abrahams, R. Edwards, W. Park, W. T. Wood, H. Haydon, C. Dunk, E. O. Hurley, M. Cohen, and R. Essex.
The town is well laid out, one of its striking features being the fine Square— planted with ornamental trees and shrubs— which occupies the centre of the borough, and is surrounded by the post office, the banks, several leading hotels, the municipal council chambers, newspaper offices, and a large number of the principal shops. Among the chief industries of Palmerston North there are sash and door factories, timber yards, coach and carriage factories, flour mills, motor, cycle and engineering works, a brewery, aerated water and cordial manufactories, furniture and basket works, rope, twine, tarpaulin and oilskin factories, printing and lithographing establishments, and brick and tile works. Dairying is an important industry of the town and district, and there are a number of creameries, butter, cheese, and dried milk factories.
Palmerston North is in the Wanganui Education District, and has a district high school, primary schools, a technical school, and a Roman Catholic convent high school and primary school. There are two Anglican Churches— All Saints' and St. Peter's, St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, two Methodist Churches, the Emmanuel Congregational Church, and two Lutheran Churches.
The post and telegraph office is a handsome building of two storeys, with a tower and a four-faced clock fitted with Westminster chimes. The telephone exchange, in the same building, has 493 subscribers. The railway station is situated in Main Street West, and at the northern end there is a concrete subway to Church Street, while at the southern end there is an overway leading to the goods sheds. There are commodious refreshment rooms at the station, and the mail trains stop some extra time for the convenience of passengers. Eighteen trains arrive and depart daily, and fifty-seven persons are employed in the regular work of the station. The sittings of the Supreme, District, and Magistrate's Courts are held in the Court House, a fine brick building in Main Street. The police station is in charge of a sergeant, who is supported by a detective, a gaoler, and seven constables.
Sports, pastimes, and recreations are well catered for in Palmerston North, and a jockey club, golf, tennis, cricket, football, bowling, and cycling clubs represent some of the social organisations. The most notable event of the year is the popular show of the Manawatu and West Coast Agricultural and Pastoral Association. The association is the most important of its kind in the North Island, and the annual show draws visitors from all parts of the Dominion. The large show grounds are within a few minutes' walk of the railway station, and the buildings page 664 and appointments are modern and efficient. The Manawatu Racing Club have an excellent racecourse at Awapuni, and hold summer and autumn meetings, which are largely attended. The local Beautifying Society have done much to improve the appearance of the town, and some of the reserves have been laid down in lawn grass, with charming flower beds and well-kept footpaths. The borough has a reserve of 400 acres on the banks of the Manawatu river. This estate is held subject to the provision that all revenue derived from it shall be expended in improving it. A very fine esplanade, about one mile long, has been constructed parallel to, and three chains distant from, the river. A drive, one chain in width, is to be made beside the esplanade, and a cricket oval, a cycle, and a running track are already available for the use of the public.
The borough is practically flat, the streets are well formed and wide, several being two chains in width, and the town is lit with gas. Good trout fishing and shooting are obtainable, and the picturesque Manawatu Gorge, four miles in length, is one of the sights of the Dominion.