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About the Photos

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 • KEEP CLEAN WPA POSTER, 1939

Desert Hero: 1919

Desert Hero: 1919

Detroit circa 1919. "View of Madison Theatre and Woodward Avenue." Now playing: "Choosing a Wife" and Fatty Arbuckle in "A Desert Hero." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

On the Grid

I'd hate to be the guy who had to keep all the bulbs lit in the Madison Theatre sign. The rectangle of lights in the center must have been used to spell out something. I wonder if it scrolled? If it did and the sign was animated, I'll bet it took a room full of equipment to do it.

Angels of Victory

The angels are long gone. I believe they were "angels of victory," part of a campaign to sell War Savings Stamps.

No Neon Yet?

I'd love to see that Madison Theatre electric sign at night. What fun replacing bulbs!

Hair's Restaurant

Really?

[I recommend the soup. - Dave]

Close to home

Incredible!

As I type this, I'm sitting approximately behind the lower edge of the Schroeder Hardware Company sign on what we know as the Hartz Building at 1529 Broadway. This photo shows an incredible street scene on both Broadway and on Woodward, and no doubt was taken from high up in the Fyfe Shoes (now Fyfe Apartments) building at West Adams and Woodward. I can just make out the front of the Edelweiss Cafe on John R and Broadway and the cigar company water tower as shown earlier on Shorpy.

I'll let the owner of the Hartz Building know about this picture, as the building is positively full of large scale vintage prints.

Thanks Shorpy!

Pianos to the right of me, pianos to the left I see

LOVE the picture!

Remember that this was the year before broadcast radio got its start, so if you wanted some music, you played it yourself, either on a piano from one of 2000-odd US manufacturers, or on your Victrola (or Edison!) player.

It seems funny that in The Motor City, ten years into Henry's Model T, very few of the cars in this view are Fords.

John Breitmeyer's Sons Florists

In the left background is the 8-story tall Breitmeyer Building. In the early 90's I was part of the architectural team that restored the building - except for the ground floor storefronts, it was almost completely original, and we restored those. The building was one of the first in Detroit that actively catered to African-American professionals (Doctors, Lawyers), giving it some historical significance. Originally, the entire first floor was a florist shop, and the basement contained huge brick boilers, which ran a steam engine for refrigeration equipment (all gone by the 90's). Attached is a picture of a paper model of the building I made at the time.

Angel Statue

I have to ask about the angel statue in the lower right, set into the parking area. What's up with that.

[It's looking at the angel across the street. - Dave]

Ha! noticed that soon after my comment, but, really, what's the story. I presume the City put them there since they're on 'public property'. More importantly, are they still there?

Thanks for the answer to my query! The beauty of SHORPY: ask a question and get an answer. Beautiful.

A musical city

There appears to be nine or ten piano companies in a two block area. How many more must there be that are out of frame?

OK, Now You're Talking

This is my kind of picture. We've got awnings, theaters that show double features, an Edison Shop, trolley cars, piano stores, department stores, Old Glory with 46 stars, Coca-Cola signage, double-parkers, a Best Buy, an Apple Store, 4 Starbucks and I haven't finished looking yet.

[48 stars. - Dave]

Did you count them? I tried but couldn't. They look like uneven rows, the 48 star flag would have been a solid 6 rows of 8. The 46 star flag would have had both rows of 6 and 8.

[Some 48-star flags had staggered rows. - Dave]

 
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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