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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.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE CITY OF RUINS AND ROSES, c. 1930

Factory Town: 1910

Factory Town: 1910

Homestead, Pennsylvania, circa 1910. "Homestead Steel Works, Carnegie Steel Co." 8x10 inch dry negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

An earlier picture from the same spot!

Isn't it amazing how clean the houses on the left side of the picture are? I can remember in the 1950s, going back to Ohio after a weekend at Grandma's (I'm a Whitaker boy) and watching the bath water turn a reddish brown -- I can't imagine what it must have been like to live in one of these homes.

The mill under construction is immediately adjacent to 8th Avenue, and the intersection of 9th and Martha is plain to see. My mom was born in 1925 in a house on 4th Avenue, in what I suspect is one of the houses still visible in this shot. These photos were taken from an accessible bluff (lots of trees, though) just east of where 11th Avenue turns south to avoid going into the ravine. I'll try to get there this summer to get an updated photo of the area.

The original can be found here and can be blown up to your heart's desire.

Found it

These houses still exist, but as others have already mentioned, the factories are gone. Based on the roof styles and the pattern of house construction, I found the houses. They're at the east end of E10th Ave. Since the time of the photo, four more houses on both the north and south sides have been added, but you can figure out which these are based on the roof patterns on Google Maps. The photographer was likely positioned on the rise at the end of the alley (Park Way). Taking a 'drive' down the alley you can see the backs of the two houses in the foreground - they're still the same. Houses in the background on 9th Ave also match up, though it appears that not all the lots were constructed, and since then some of the houses at the right end in the photo have been torn down, where Toth Carpet is now located. The row of flat roofed dwellings still exist, on 9th Ave and Andrew Street. It looks like the sidewalks might originally have been brick, which there is still some today. In front of most homes the approx. one foot wide area where the trees were planted is now sidewalk, though there is still evidence of that previously unpaved area.

Ikea et al

I know it's a given that much of the old development will, in time, be replaced with new. But how much we have lost over the decades in regards to industrial development. I can't see much to interest me in new development or office buildings, or high tech industrial. Driving through Emeryville, CA this morning I realized what a wasteland of totally new buildings it is today. It used to be an industrial area with a large train yard. Now it's filled with Ikea and other large stores and huge apartments. I could never live there.

Shades of Gray

In 1943 when my maternal grandmother died, my mom took me to the small Pennsylvania coal mining towns (at that time) of Bradenville and Loyalhanna. I was very young at the time but I remember it clearly as it was my first long train trip from Connecticut to Pennsy, overnight. As we passed through many similar industrial towns, I could not help but notice that everything was gray, whether by plan or by the never-ending soot in the air. We stayed a week in a house just like these but the roads and "sidewalks" were charcoal gray dirt, all the homes were gray and for that entire week, so were the skies and everyone's emotions. Train tracks were everywhere and coal trains ran continuously. I'm sure it has changed now but this picture really took me back there to my gray period. Nice people though, ALL very kind, very hard-working and very giving.

100 years later.

I'm using those same rollup bamboo blinds on my porch as the house in the foreground. Nice to see some things don't change!

Particulates

I look at this and just imagine all the lung disorders in the nearby population. They must have waited for a holiday shutdown to take this shot.

Sic Transit

Home of the epic 1892 strike that was the start of union breaking in the steel industry. The plant, eventually owned by US Steel, closed in 1986 and today the land is home to The Waterfront shopping center and Sandcastle Waterpark.

Mom's birthplace

This photo may show the house where my mom was born. I can't wait to get a copy of it in her hands. The properties from 8th Street to the Monongahela were all bought up by the steel companies and torn down to accommodate expansion in the early 1930s. Thanks for providing this.

Remembering Pete

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

I used to live up the hill

I used to live up the hill in Pittsburgh, back when this steel mill produced one-third of the steel used in the United States. It is now a shopping center, with a few pieces of machinery and a line of old smokestacks from the soaking pits left to mark the spot. The town of Homestead is pretty much dead at this point.

U.S. Steel - Tom Russell

Homestead Pennsylvania, the home of the U.S. Steel
And the men down at the Homestead Works
Are sharing one last meal
Sauerkraut and kielbasa, a dozen beers or more
A hundred years of pouring slab,
They’re closing down the door
And this mill won’t run no more.

There’s silence in the valley, there’s silence in the streets
There’s silence every night here upon these cold white sheets
Were my wife stares out the window with a long and lonely stare
She says “you kill yourself for 30 years but no one seems to care”

You made their railroads rails and bridges. You ran their driving wheels
And the towers of the Empire State are lined with Homestead Steel
The Monongahela valley no longer hears the roar
There's Cottonwood and Sumac-weed inside the slab mill door
And this mill won’t run no more.

So, me, I'll sit in Hess' bar and drink my life away.
God bless the second mortgage and the unemployment pay
And my ex-boss, Mr. Goodwin, he keeps shaking my one good hand.
He says "Son, it's men like me and you who built the Promised Land".

We made their railroad bridges. We ran their driving wheels
And the towers of the Empire State are lined with Homestead Steel
The Monongahela valley no longer hears the roar
There's Cottonwood and Sumac-weed inside the slab mill door
And this mill won’t run no more.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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