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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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Mystery 50s photo

Mystery 50s photo

Judging from the other photos in the box with this, these people are either relatives or childhood/family friends of my mother, which would mean the pic was most likely taken in Salt Lake City or possibly Albuquerque, those being the two cities where she grew up. Unfortunately, those who would know for sure are no longer alive to tell me. I just found it an interesting pic, as you don't seem to see photos of less-prosperous-looking people in this time period very often, also I thought some Shorpyites might have fun trying to identify the various vehicles in the background. View full size.

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I live in Albuquerque and can tell you the vegetation typically does not look like that here. The housing typology in the background is not characteristic in Albuquerque as far as I know, but it is a familiar typology of Oakland, CA. Sidewalks and power lines also look more like California to me.

License plate and location

I'm pretty sure the Packard's license plate is not from New Mexico or Utah. It has an early 1950s California look to it. The color (light on dark, probably yellow on black) fits 1950s California, but the number looks more like CA's 1940s pattern, except that in the 1940s the word "California" was above the numbers and on this plate it looks like the writing is below the numbers.

To me, the setting looks more like southern California than either Albuquerque or Salt Lake City. Also, from the way they're dressed and the open car door, I'd guess that the girl is going somewhere but the woman isn't.

[You're right, the design is that of the 1951 California plate, used through 1955 with a metal year tab attached at the lower right for renewals. There doesn't seem to be one here, so that would indicate a 1951-2 date for the photo. - tterrace]

Not a Taxi

Yes, it is a 1941 Packard and it is a model 110 with a 6 cylinder 110 HP motor. You can tell because it has the smaller decorative trim in the center of the front bumper as opposed to the model 120 (8 cylinder - 120 HP)with a larger trim piece. The 160 and 180 models both had same front bumper and it was larger and distinctly different.

Two-tone colors were popular with Packards back in 1941 and the offered six, different combinations that year. And I don't see any taxi trim. I own two 1941 Packards, one a 120 and the other a 160.

Railroad crossing/street trackage

What appears to be a flag on the building in the background (white or silver "X" on a black background) is actually a railroad crossing sign suspended on a wire over the street, indicating a track running in the cross street at that location. These signs were common in California cities where street trackage existed, and the buildings look like southern California to me, too. There was also a lot of street trackage in Salt Lake City, much less if any in Albuquerque to my knowledge.


The most obvious car is a 1941 Packard. Given the two-tone paint, perhaps a taxi. The setting looks more like Albuquerque than Salt Lake City to me.

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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