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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 • PAN AMERICAN TO GUATEMALA, 1938

Second Life: 1943

Second Life: 1943

April 1943. Baltimore, Md. "Trolley of 1917 vintage. Many old cars have been reconditioned because of wartime transportation pressure." Medium format negative by Marjory Collins for the Office of War Information. View full size.

 

Semi-Convertible

Baltimore Transit Company owned 884 of these semi-convertible streetcars, built by Brill between 1905 and 1919. The cars were so named because the windows could be slid upwards into pockets in the roof during warm weather, making them effectively an open-sided car. No.5645 was the first car in a batch of 99 built in 1917, all of which were scrapped between 1947 and 1950 - relatively short lives for such durable vehicles.

(The tramway museum I volunteer at has a similar car built by Brill in 1902, which ran for 50 years.)

In 1906

A trolley at the same intersection is on Shorpy here.

Survivor

The building at the left, known as the Alexander Brown & Sons Company Building at 135 East Baltimore Street, was built in 1901 and was one of the few buildings in the neighborhood to survive the great Baltimore Fire of 1904. The corner pilasters and other limestone details show spalling, which is popularly attributed to the heat of the fire.

Other remarkable survivors

Interesting to see that every building in the picture survives. The block on the north side, unseen here, was completely demolished to accommodate a pair of exceedingly undistinguished '70s-'80s towers.

Strangely Intact

Background cars

1940 Pontiac
1941 Studebaker

Women's Auxiliary Army Corps

You can sign up on the 1st floor of The Equitable Bldg. It is located on Calvert, at the next corner behind the man standing by the traffic signal. Built in 1891 - known as Baltimore's first skyscraper.

Drafted

Served in WWI, then called up to serve again in WWII. Everyone and everything had to do their part in the war effort.

Also in Richmond

Richmond, VA, was also using ancient streetcars during WW2 in addition to more-modern ones. Some were very large cars with a wooden body. Some were little 4-wheeled cars.

Everything old is new again

It has always made me chuckle then shake my head when I see a picture like this and think about how most cities, even of modest size had some type of trolly system. Then after the war they were torn up and replaced with buses. Now cities are spending billions of dollars to install modern environmentally green mass-transit systems. What my parents grew up calling a trolly.

[Or, if they could spell, a trolley. - Dave]

 
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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