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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 NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

West Hotel: 1905

West Hotel: 1905

Minneapolis, Minnesota, circa 1905. "West Hotel." Busy both architecturally and commercially. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

Fireproof

The term "fireproof" was originally used by insurance companies simply to denote that a building was of masonry/steel frame construction, and the shell of the building could therefore not burn down. Hotel owners were quick to seize upon the term and use it in their advertising, but the practice more or less stopped after the "fireproof" Winecoff Hotel in Atlanta burned on December 7, 1946, killing 119.

West Hotel - 1927

Here's a picture of the hotel in 1927, looking a bit darker than it is in the above photograph. Most likely due to lighting.

[It would also be due to soot. Masonry buildings turn black after years of exposure to coal smoke. - Dave]

West Hotel, 1927

Prof. Hill

Might have seen that Billard sign as a call to arms to save the city from itself.

Mass transit then and now

Could the young couple standing under the arched overhang be waiting for Jesse Ventura's light rail?

Light rail

Before the blaze

A 1900 tourist guide described the West as fireproof, but January 10, 1906, showed otherwise. That morning, a fire that began in the bottom of an elevator shaft spread upward, generating toxic smoke, and eventually flames that ran through the top floors. Ten died, several by leaping or falling to their deaths from those many ledges. But the structure remained intact, and within months the hotel was again hosting major national conventions.

The loss of this beauty can't be blamed on urban renewal. It was demolished in 1940, at the choice of its owner, Philadelphia Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Co.

Things Go Better

Fred C Weinhold had himself a great spot for his Drug Store, right out on the street in front of the West Hotel and more than likely with an entrance to the shop from inside the hotel itself. He was also supported by the Coca-Cola Company, in their infinite advertising wisdom, with a sign right at the entrance to the store.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
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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