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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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Ashcan Alley: 1943

Ashcan Alley: 1943

April 1943. "New York street scene in Harlem. Trash cans along the curb." Nitrate negative by Gordon Parks for the Office of War Information. View full size.


OWI photos

Among its other functions the Office of War Information produced magazines for foreign readers - presumably readers in neutral countries - to "showcase American manufacturing power and to foster an appreciation of the American lifestyle." And of course not every photo shot for the OWI was used in one of its publications or whatever other areas that it operated in.

Ash cans

Those cans were made to handle hot coal ash as can be seen by some ash spilled on the ground next to one of the cans.

Office of war information

Just out of curiosity, why would the Office of War Information be interested in a mundane street scene like this? We've many other similar scenes commissioned by this agency, none of the seemingly related to the war effort.

Chain drive

I always liked the sound of a chain drive truck. Note that coal delivery job backed into the curb.

Military Spec. Cans

Those are bullet-proof trash cans! They were the bane of the trash collectors as the empty can weighed probably 40 lbs. Very difficult to even dent those cans.


Must be a lot of kids around, or this is near a school, as there are a many drawings on the papers in the trash cans.

Heavy Duty

Boy, they sure knew how to build a proprer trash can back in the day!

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | 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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