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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 • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Archie and Veronica: 1940

Archie and Veronica: 1940

November 1940. "Young workers at the Penomah Mills Inc., Taftville, Conn." Brown-bagger meets the lunchbox set. (Or, as a commenter on our Facebook page puts it: "I think that's Archie.") Photo by Jack Delano. View full size.

 

Towers

It could also be for a similar reason firehouses have towers - its to hang hoses to dry so they don't kink, crack, and otherwise become unusable. In a factory, they could well have firehoses, so you'd have a similar use.

It could also simply be so you're a landmark. There is no better way to show how big you are then to have the tallest structure in town, visible to all.

Why a tower

StefanJ has lots of good reasons. Here are a couple more:

Stairs were put in separate towers so they wouldn't act like chimneys in case of fire. Once you have a tower, the natural Victorian impulse is to make it a landmark.

Also, factory towers often held a water tank for sprinklers.

Dong Thing

Belltower on a factory? Any number of reasons. Supposed that there is a bell installed in the first place.

- Ringing off work hours and shifts? Not every worker had a watch at the time. Maybe not every factory operated a whistle, either.
- Fire alarm?

Otherwise:
- Architectural must-have at the time?
- Style?
- Pride of builder and owner in their building?
- Showing the community that the factory is there to stay?

Ding Dong

Why does a factory have a bell tower?

In the news

Coincidentally, there is an article on the mill in the local newspaper the same day this picture was posted: Ponemah Mills renovation back on track. The Ponemah mills were purported to be the largest textile mills in the world. I drive by these every now and then and I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case. It is enormous.

Penomah, Denomah, Ponemah

At least three dozen of Jack Delano's negatives from this series have been saved and scanned by the LOC. But, as can happen, they are indexed under at least two spellings, "Penomah" and "Denomah," neither of which are actually correct, apparently. The LOC's HABS photos and other online listings for this cotton and rayon mill, once the largest in the United States, can be found by searching for "Ponemah" Mills. But running this spelling in the search engine won't locate the Delano images, perhaps a good example to remind researchers to try alternate spellings as a matter of course. Here's an interior shot from the Delano photos, a negative filed under "Denomah."

The Brown-bagger

It looks like he's about to lose his milk money and his girl friend.

"Oh no you don't"

Looks to me like the woman is the mother of the boy to the left and she's got that "see what will happen if you don't stay in school?" look

Oh-So-Casual

That lean! Those legs! It's the younger Gene Kelly and he's ready to dance!

Same corner today

From Google Streetview: http://goo.gl/maps/66ZHz

The place sure has seen better days!

 
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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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