Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.
St. Paul, Minnesota, circa 1908. "Wabasha Street." The early 20th century was a golden age of signcraft. Gilded wooden letters and 24K gold leaf window treatments were standard. Several classic lettering manuals were published during this time, with graphic styles influenced by Victorian ornament and the Art Nouveau movement. To an ex-sign painter (a profession killed by the computer, alas), Wabasha Street is a candy store. This is how I imagine it looked, a chilly morning in St. Paul one hundred years ago. Keen-eyed Shorpians may notice a couple of small modifications to the original photograph. View full size.