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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 • SUMMER IN ITALY, 1951

Merrimack Street: 1908

Merrimack Street: 1908

Lowell, Massachusetts, circa 1908. "Merrimack Street looking west." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Adam Good Company

Nabisco Logo Origins

JohnB, thank you for the link regarding the history of the National Biscuit Company logo. It traces its origin to a 15th century printer's design used in Venice, which in turn was derived from early Christian art. Perhaps it was inspired by this Byzantine icon of the Archangel Michael found in the church of San Marco in Venice. Note the orb held in the Archangel's hand:

Uneeda Biscuit mentioned in

Uneeda Biscuit mentioned in the opening number of The Music Man (as the train approaches River City): "The Uneeda Biscuit in an airtight, sanitary package, made the cracker barrel obsolete, obsolete...."

On the street . . .

. . . where, about thirty years later, you'd find Jack Kerouac and his high school pals encountering the existential night.

Streetcar Tracks

Must have been a real challenge to buggy drivers to keep those narrow wheels from becoming trapped in the tracks. (Still a problem today, albeit for bicyclists at diagonal railroad crossings).

In rain or shine

Uneeda Biscuit!

Uneeda Biscuit

National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) had only been in business 10 years when this photo was taken.

"In Rain or"

Or what? what I say?, I must know!
Now I won't sleep tonight.

Massachusetts Oriels

No, not birds of any kind but those lovely protruding windows about half-way down the block, supported on the stone brackets. Bay windows are similar, but do not have the supporting bracket. For comparison see the window of V.E. Darlings' office in the Courier-Citizen building.

Pioneer Signage

The O.J.Gude Company of N.Y. the company that made the Uneeda Biscuit Sign, partially seen in this picture, was a preeminent outdoor advertising company. They must have had a deal with the other NBC (the one that makes the Mallomars) to paint their signs wherever in the nation that the biscuit company felt it was needed. I think they also made the first electrically lighted outdoor sign as well.

Propped bikes today

I've seen bikes propped up against the curb like that in Tulum, Mexico, but never in the U.S. Pretty nifty.

A Dam Good Picture

A plethora of great signs here, but I was initially surprised to see the sign for the nicely-named A Dam Good Company, especially in 1908 New England.

Took me a minute to realize the sign was for the Adam Good Company.

Is it Adam Good?

Signs painted on the buildings on the right of the picture advertise either A Dam Good Co. or Adam Good Co. The street level store just below that sign sells coffee, tea, butter and cheese. I'm confused (as usual).

"Propped" Bicycle.

The young guy on the right appears to be picking up his bicycle from where he parked, or "propped" it at the curb. By positioning the bike exactly as shown, it would stay that way without falling over. If the curb wasn't high enough, the pedal would also help by being placed to hold it at the top of the curb. We sometimes parked our bikes this way as kids, and without the benefit of Kryptonite locks, they were always there when we came back. But then again, it was the 1950s.

Then and now

I live downtown. Still a fun city but with fewer horses and buggies.

Who's paying for this pic?

This picture raises a question I've had generally about how these photos got made. Did Detroit Publishing, National Photo, etc, just send photographers out in the field to take pictures at the photographer's whim? And then hope to sell them later?

I can understand the party photos, portraits, etc, I would imagine someone called up the local photographer and wanted a photo shoot. But what was the motivation for the more "arty" shots that we see? Or the last picture, where we see people hauling granite? I'm thankful they did, but don't quite understand how the bills got paid.

[Detroit Publishing, which had retail galleries in New York, Detroit and other major cities, was mainly in the postcard business; National Photo was a news service and commercial photography and portrait studio whose pictures were commissioned by its clients. -Dave]

 
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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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