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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Please-Freeze: 1917

Please-Freeze: 1917

Detroit circa 1917. "Ice fountain, Washington Boulevard." The big icicle with a small request, discreetly stated on that unobtrusive little sign near the man: PLEASE. The rest of the message is up to your imagination. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Do Not Climb the Ice.


do not lick.

Arc Light

The street light appears to be an arc light, rather than incandescent. There are steps to climb up to change the carbon rods. This is a similar source of light to the "moon light" towers in an earlier image. Incredibly, there are still areas of Detroit where these standards are in use, albeit with modern light sources. A few historic areas have even replicated this design. I took this photo in July 2011.


Help yourself to some ice.

Coyote vs Roadrunner

Somehow I just I picture Wile E. Coyote on the other end of that sign.

Seemed like a good idea at the time

For many years, the town of Bethel, Connecticut had an enormous bronze fountain, donated by its most famous native son, Mr. P.T. Barnum. The town deliberately let it run all winter, since the residents loved the appearance of ever-growing icicles. The fountain had to be scrapped in 1923 after many freeze/thaw cycles damaged it beyond repair. Later in the decade, it was replaced with the doughboy statue that still stands today.

They still do it - elsewhere

Weird NJ had a photo of the same thing outside a Northern New Jersey office building early in this century.


Detroit was once a most spectacular City!


watch my valise until I can dig out of this mess!

If You See Something, Say Something

There appears to be an abandoned piece of luggage at the base of the ice fountain.


Get me out of here!


turn off water by November 1.

De-Ice Fountain

The rest of the year.

Detroit Still Does It

Detroit still has a giant ice pile each winter, but on Belle Isle now instead of Washington Blvd. What forms the center of the pile? All the used Christmas trees from downtown!

Oh, so fountains caused this.


Do they still let them run all winter? Is this therefore a yearly spectacle?

Just one question

How did they accomplish this?

+3 (months)

Much of it was still there when my great-aunt showed up several months later to have her photo taken with it!


do not feed the pigeons ... albeit ones encased in solid ice.


Do not eat the yellow ice.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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