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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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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • PROTECT HER FROM TUBERCULOSIS

Cadillac Square: 1902

Cadillac Square: 1902

Detroit circa 1902. "Cadillac Square and Wayne County building." The rigging is for one of the "moonlight tower" arc lamps that provided nighttime illumination, an example of which can be seen behind the Rajah Coffee sign. View full size.

 

The ornate building on the right

is one of Detroit's grand old hotels, the Russell House, first opened in 1857. The hotel has since been replaced with two successive buildings, each bigger than the last. First came the Hotel Pontchartrain (a great favorite of both the Detroit Publishing Co. and the viewers at Shorpy), built 1906-1907 to the designs of George D. Mason; then came the First National Bank Building, designed by the great architect Albert Kahn, built 1920-1922 and still standing.

Cadillac now

Some of these buildings are still standing today although the church steeple cloaked in good old Detroit pollution is behind the apartment buildings and the ornate building on the right has been seriously foreshortened.


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Moonlight Towers

Austin, TX still has a few working Moonlight towers - usually just called Moontowers. At Zilker Park a Moontower is used as the frame for the Holiday Tree of Lights in December.

Vast amounts of pollen spewing from one kind of tree after another can be pretty breathtaking so it's good to have one tall tree that doesn't set off allergies.

A good 5c Cigar

perhaps some of that smoke is from those cheap cigars.

To be fair about Michigan

Esteemed fellow Shorpy-ite FotoFantasist correctly mentions clean air found leaving the Mitten State and entering other states.

To be fair, however, one can encounter the same (literally) breath-taking change in air quality, smell and beauty about the time one traverses the Mackinac Bridge between Michigan's two peninsulas, and enters the pristine Upper Peninsula. You can always smell the pine trees and so much more, or so much less.

Impact

In my shorpy-inspired daydreams of travels through time, I often imagine it would be the olfactory sense that would be the first to be impacted. Much like the experience encountered when traveling south out of Michigan in the dead of winter and you first experience the smell of the earth and living things as you cross into Tennessee.

No Quadrigas

Beautiful shot of the Wayne County Building minus Victory and Progress.

Pass my inhaler

Oh my, us that really smoke/smog hovering in the middle background? Gives me an asthma attack just looking at it.

Smoke gets in your eyes

Maybe we've got global warming today, but once again here's a skyline with lots of soot and smoke on the horizon, thanks to the nearly 100% of energy being made from burning wood or coal. Life wasn't all rosy then, either.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
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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