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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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High Street: 1908

High Street: 1908

Holyoke, Massachusetts, circa 1908. "High Street." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Basket Case

Hard to reconcile the bustling, modestly affluent appearance of this street scene from 104 years ago with the economic basket case Holyoke has become since then. It's become one of those downtowns populated with empty store fronts, slap-dash convenience stores, nail salons, karate studios, low-rent personal injury lawyers, etc. Holyoke is competing with Lawrence for the title of Most Comatose City in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Makes Lynn look prosperous.

The Marble Building

The grand Victorian building with the rotunda on the right was called the "Marble Building." It was constructed from Vermont marble and was originally a hotel. By 1900 it was converted to Child's Shoes which was one of the largest shoe stores outside NYC or Boston. In the 1950s it was torn down to build a Grant's dept. store that moved "uptown" in the early 1970s and is now a K-Mart. Downtown Holyoke's major downfall was not until the 1970s, the the construction of the local malls and general inner city decline. The Steigers dept. store just outside the view on the left didn't close until 1984 despite their opening of a location at the Holyoke Mall in 1979.


My grandmother graduated from Mt. Holyoke College in nearby South Hadley, Mass. in 1908, so she could easily be one of the ladies sauntering down the main drag in the distance.

Gone but not forgotten

I'm happy to note that the gentleman sitting in the fourth floor window of the central building in 1908, and wearing a straw boater hat, decided to leave some time before 2012.


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Holyoke has barely begun to recover from its post-war decline.

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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