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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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Onward: 1908

Onward: 1908

Detroit circa 1908. "Automobile on waterfront road." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Packard headlamps

The Packard (or any other car of this era) did not have "carbon arc" headlamps. Rather, they were powered by acetylene. There is a brass canister on the passenger running board that opens up and hold 1 to 2 quarts of water. When you want acetylene you pour in a small amount of calcium carbide crystals and the resulting chemical reaction with H2O produces acetylene.

The tank is quickly sealed and the pressurized gas goes through tubes to the headlamps. There the gas burns and creates light.

Gas or Electric?

I suspect that's a gas lamp behind the car, due to (a) a lack of any visible wires and (b) the rungs to allow the lamplighter to climb up there.

[It's a carbon arc lamp. You can see the wires at the top. The rungs are for whoever had to trim the electrodes. - Dave]

Front axle

I'm trying to understand the front axle setup, I can see the steering arm/rod but there seem to be two things ending in midair?

[That's the starting crank. -Dave]

Yet another optical illusion

Upon further inspection, the woman I thought was riding on back of the auto is actually strolling along the walk behind it.

Keep pushing, Dear!

Surprised that no one posted a comment on the lady riding facing backwards on the rear of the car. I don't think she's in an actual seat, based on other photos of 1906 Packards that I've seen.

[She's on the sidewalk. - Dave]

How to prevent a bad hair day.

Interesting that the passenger is on the rumble seat seeing where she has been rather than next to the driver seeing where they are going. Must not have wanted to get a hair out of place. I guess the top folded down does make an effective windshield.

[She's on the sidewalk. - Dave]

Belle Isle

The car is a Packard runabout, probably a Model S (24) from 1906.

Location is on Belle Isle. The urn at the bridge (far left) is the clue. The City of Detroit is in the background, on the other side of the Detroit River.

Vrooom - - Vrooom

The only caption fitting this action-packed scene.

The Big Picture

What a difference the full size view makes! To my old eyes, I was looking at a junker on a dirt road. I super-sized and what a surprise.

Exposed upholstery

What always amazes me about these beautiful old cars is that the "interior" is so exposed to weather. I mean, even with the top up, much of the seats must have gotten wet and dirty in nasty weather.

[The same as with most horse-drawn conveyances. - Dave]


I would guess the location to be on the North side of Belle Isle and, of course, the Detroit River looking N by NW.

Lakeshore Drive in Grosse Pointe?

I'm guessing that this was taken along Lakeshore Drive (near Edsel Ford's home in Grosse Pointe Shores) given the stately size of the homes in the background. The body of water being Lake St. Clair.

Optical illusion

What an interesting contraption, whoever heard of dome lights that tall?

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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