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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 • CARNIVAL OF THE ARTS, 1937

All Nite: 1941

All Nite: 1941

July 1941. "Street scene in Chicago Black Belt." Old-school fixie. 35mm negative by Edwin Rosskam for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

 

A hot time

He's got a lot of clothes on for it being July in D.C.

Half-tooth sprocket

...is an unusual feature I have not seen before. See a modern version here.

Maybe not always Sears

At least by the mid-1930s Elgin was a Sears brand, and became "J. C. Higgins" sometime after WW II. Elgin-labelled bikes were manufactured by Columbia Westfield Mfg, and I've read that there was at least one other builder for Sears.

I have seen hints, but no clear proof, that there was an Elgin bicycle company in the 1920s. Could it be that there was a well known Elgin company that died in the Depression and Sears bought the name and had them manufactured elsewhere?

Shell Oil

I think the shell is a license plate tag given out by Shell Oil.

That's an Elgin Bicycle

That is an Elgin bicycle. I learned to ride on an identical bike, circa 1965. It was a hand-me-down. The sea shell ornaments were not present on mine, although I did have a chain guard. Mine was a redish maroon and cream color scheme.

The saddle bags resemble World War ONE surplus musette bags.

I believe that Elgin was a Sears & Roebuck brand name. I have no idea who actually made them for Sears, but it had some resemblence to an Iver Johnson bike I once saw.

The two curved bars going from the base of the steering knuckle down to the sides of the front fork were purely decorative.

All-in-all, it was a VERY heavy bicycle, not ideal for a boy learning to ride. On the flip side, the seat was very comfortable.

There was decorative paint on the fenders, maroon & cream stripes and small stars. Perhaps this would become visible if the photo were enhanced.

Not Only, But Also

We're left to guess exactly what is hot all night, but the young man's air of quiet alertness and the saddle bags on the bike suggest that delivery is available.

A Tough Pair

That bike is a classic. It looks like it had almost as hard a life as its owner, but both are still looking solid and able to take on whatever task needed for survival in hard times. Check out the sea shell ornamental castings on the front spindle!

The winds of war are blowing in the distance, though. I wonder if either the young man or his bike survived the draft and metal drives of WWII?

 
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