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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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Good Shoes: 1903

Good Shoes: 1903

Providence, Rhode Island, circa 1903. "Westminster Street." A textbook turn-of-the-century commercial district: streetcar transportation, vaudeville theater, painless dentistry, comfortable shoes. 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.

 

Is she there?

My Grandmother was living there at the time, a beautiful 18 year old, who had come over from England 2 years prior. I can't help wondering, is she there in that crowd? What was her life like at the time this was taken? I'd give a lot just for a glimpse!

Reflection

Very cool picture. This would make a great jigsaw puzzle! Is the carriage we see reflected in the piano store window the same one we see further up the street? If so, is the apparent great distance between the carriage and its reflection just a matter of perspective or somehow connected to the process (shutter speed?) of taking the picture?

Four things

I would like to do.

1) Dress for the time
2) Gather about $100 of the money relevant to the era
3) Step into this photo and go shopping
4) Bring my purchases back with me.

Where did everyone go?

There is such a sense of interesting, bustling life and activity in the 1903 picture -- and in 2010? Nothing in sight but a bunch of parked cars. So much for "progress."

Color Me Brown

Great photo. Would love to see what it looks like colorized.

Addams Shoes

Letter from Charles Addams to James Thurber:

I have gotten a lot of letters about my work, most of them from criminals and subhumans, who want to sell ideas. I can rarely use them as they're in the worst possible taste, but sometimes funny in a grotesque sort of way. ... A man from Boston sent a picture of a local shoe store, a very old one, with shoes for the club-footed, for shortened legs, etc.; underneath the window in gold-leaf on black it said, "Shoes for the entire family."

Providence Arcade

About a block down Westminster Street, behind those trolleys, stands the Providence Arcade. Built in 1828, it still exists and is arguably the oldest shopping mall in America. The Arcade is worthy of an appearance on Shorpy.

Eye See You

Long time browser, first time commenting... The glasses sign on the left of the picture made me smile today. Thanks, Shorpy.

Silent Movie Scene

Wonderful photo. We have a Buster Keaton-like character ready to step off into the oncoming trolley. Another Shorpy classic.

A few more details

We are looking down Westminster Street across the river and on to College Hill, where Brown University is located (and RISD, where the Talking Heads met!). Cherry and Webb (right side foreground) was an upscale department store. Shepard's was a larger, more mid-market store. Their clock was still there last I knew. Who can fill in more?

oops: Cherry and Webb on LEFT.....

Dr. Allen Dentist's Treat

If you navigate within the other commenter's Google Street View window to the alley closest to us alongside Dr. Allen's office (the building still stands but in a much altered form), there you will find a neat mural.

The mural is of the same scene in the same time period, but looking from the other direction. The clock is included, as is the now-vanished KEITH'S.

Caught in the moment.

Despite people going about their everyday business, this almost seems staged for the photographer's benefit. Everyone is in such an ideal position that it could have come from a painter's brush.

More bricks, fewer cobblestones

Most of the more interesting architecture is gone, but the Alice Building (midway down the block, on the right between Keith's and the Hotel) is still there, as is the taller building with the ornate windows a bit farther down the block. Also, one of the two street clocks remains (the one labeled "Shepard" in the 1903 image, although that label seems to have changed since then).


View Larger Map

Busy Street.

So much going on here for the eye to see. Not one, but two clocks across the street from each other and both set to the same time! Really like the two boys involved in a bit of horseplay in the middle of the street. One hopes that they grew up to be lifelong friends.

The four ladies crossing the street together had to be friends out for a day of shopping.

Two streetcars on the tracks and not a sign of those newfangled horseless carriages.

Curved Sash Windows

Wow! Curved sash, double-hung windows. Don't see those every day.

See them at the corner of the building on the right, above the sign for "Dr. Allen, DENTIST."

 
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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