Twenty-fifth Street ain't what it used to be.
The historic street once was lined with bars, bootleggers, winos, hobos and prostitutes.Troop trains would slide into downtown Ogden during World War II and the soldiers would have a good time along 25th Street.
But the Union Pacific Railroad has moved out, and business leaders and city officials decided to clean up 25th Street and attempt to change its reputation.
About a dozen bars are now left on the street, and a few older drinkers still spend time down there. The prostitutes are gone, along with the winos. The biggest headache facing Ogden police officers nowadays is coping with young middle-class males who like to fight because they can't handle their liquor.
And to make sure the street stays somewhat clean, the police department five years ago decided to implement a foot patrol program where officers walk the 25th Street beat.
Officer Phil Howell is one of three officers who walk 25th Street to keep an eye on the crowd there.
The 37-year-old officer said he enjoys the beat and he feels his presence keeps people calm.
Howell, a native Hawaiian, has been on the force for 13 years, five of those walking 25th Street. He came to Ogden on a football scholarship to Weber State College. He graduated there with a bachelor's degree in police science and went on to Brigham Young University to get a master's in public administration.
"We're here to handle whatever problems there are," he said. "We're here to create a perception of safety."
Working on a typical Friday night, Howell said he mostly keeps his eyes on young white middle-class males because they get "drunk and stupid."
As he wanders through bars, all the bartenders and most of the patrons know Howell. He stops to chat with some of the patrons, and as he walks away, one young drinker turns to his friend and says, "Phil's a cool cop, but he's still a cop."
Not only does he walk the street, but he also keeps an eye on downtown Ogden, walking down back alleys and on top of roofs to see if any burglars or transients are around.
He knows most of the transients who walk the streets of Ogden, and he became so concerned about the homeless situation that he became a member of the Weber County Homeless Coordinating Committee.
He has seen every nook and cranny in downtown Ogden - places most people who've lived here all their lives never knew existed.
Howell said he is pleased that 25th Street isn't much of a problem anymore, but he said the energy and excitement of the area also disappeared when the undesirables were encouraged to go elsewhere.
"While it's good that the negative elements left the street, the negative element also added to the color," he said.
Closing down the liquor store on 25th Street helped reduce the numbers of alcoholic transients, Howell said. "Some of the old ones have died, while others moved on."
When he walked into a bar where a band was playing, some patrons smiled and said hello to Howell; others looked at him with distrust. Bartenders said there is a certain comfort and security knowing the officer is there, and he is more than welcome to wander in and out of their establishments.
"Phil has really been an instrument down here to alleviate the bad elements that 25th Street has been known to have," said Tom Pappas, former owner of The Club. "When I was down here the wino situation was repulsive."
Pappas said his family owned the bar from 1925 to 1985. He said he has seen the street go through many changes in those 60 years.
"It's changed considerably," Pappas said. "It was the scummiest place I'd ever seen. It was where it was happening."
On a typical Friday night, the street is lined with cars and motorcycles. Many of Ogden's bikers like to hang out in the bars.
Howell said he rarely has problems with the local bikers, though he was injured by an out-of-stater a couple of weeks ago. "Most of them (bikers) are legitimate citizens of the community who work at Hill Air Force Base or Morton Thiokol."
The officer said, however, that there are still problems on 25th Street.
"Anywhere you have nightlife, you are going to have a certain element of drug use and drug abuse," he said. "That's part of today's society."
He said people can walk down the street alone at night safely, though most don't because because of the street's reputation.
Friday night was a quiet night for Howell. That particular night, he only had to break up one fight between two young men and arrest a third man who had passed out on the street.
Yes, 25th Street ain't what it use to be.