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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 • BRIDGE AT ARGENTEUIL, 1874

Along the El: 1907

Along the El: 1907

Chicago, Illinois, circa 1907. "Wabash Avenue and elevated tracks." 8x10 inch glass negative by Hans Behm, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Gotta focus

I always have to go over old Chicago photos with a fine tooth comb, in case I spot my grandfather, who was there from before the First World War until the mid-'20s. (He came back to Canada after all his Irish mob friends got bumped off by Capone.)

You never know, he could be in the crowd there somewhere...

Great follow-up photo

I've passed this site many times. Thanks to erich for the wonderful followup photo.

Differences

Horse poop, shovel, and 45-star flag.

Burnham & More Burnham

The west side of Wabash Avenue (left side of the picture) is chock full of buildings designed by the office of D. H. Burnham and Co., starting with the Silversmith Building (1896-1897), followed immediately by the Heyworth Building (1903-1904), and - skipping over the next block - the buildings of the Marshall Field & Co. department store (1892-1893 and 1902-1906). The exception is the Mandel Brothers Annex (Holabird and Roche, 1900-1901), the white building directly opposite the Madison & Wabash elevated station platform visible in the photo. The striking difference in building heights is due to the interference of the Chicago City Council, which enacted a yo-yo-like series of absolute height limits in 1893 and 1902 (and again in 1920 and 1923).

+100

Below is the same view from April of 2007.

The New Clifton House

This would be the "northwest corner of Wabash Avenue and Monroe Street," according to the History of Chicago (Volume 3).

The fellows by the wagon do not seem to like getting their picture taken.

Find the Neighborhood Tough Guys

I bet they're not so tough now.

"L"

In Chicago, it's the "L" rather than "El". A small thing but important to we Chicago natives.

Burnt to a crisp

BIG BLAZE IN CHICAGO. (Fort Wayne Sentinel, January 29, 1908)

Chicago, Jan. 28.--The third disastrous fire in the business district of the city in as many days, caused a loss last night estimated at more than $1,000,000 in the almost complete destruction of the building at 144 Wabash avenue occupied by Alfred Peats & Co., dealers in wall paper, the building adjoining on the south occupied by John A Colby & Sons, furniture dealers, and those in the rear, fronting on Michigan avenue, occupied by the millinery firms of Gage Bros. & Co., Theodore Ascher & Co. and Edson Keith & Co. The interior of each of the buildings was burned out. The fire started in the engine room of the Peats building and raged for three hours. Street car lines throughout the down town district and the elevated lines were tied up and theater-goers were delayed, many of them more than an hour in reaching the play houses. The work of the firemen was witnessed by at least 15,000 persons who, attracted by the glare which could be seen for miles, thronged the streets in spite of the cold.

Much the same today

This section of Wabash Avenue remains very similar in overall appearance. While there has been much change in Chicago over the decades as buildings have been demolished to make way for newer architecture, these buildings, including the Silversmith Building remain. The Silversmith is now a boutique hotel.

Also visible are examples of the "Chicago Window" that features a large, fixed center panel and two smaller double-hung windows on each side.

 
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