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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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Sauceress: 1956

Sauceress: 1956

1956. "General Motors Technical Center, Warren, Michigan. Design Center interior with stair in background. Eero Saarinen, architect." Our second look at the reception disk and its pilot. Kodachrome by Balthazar Korab. View full size.

 

Eames wire chair

Eero Saarinen was a close personal friend and sometimes collaborator with my long time employers Charles and Ray Eames. The wire chair here and I'm sure others elsewhere in the building are probably Eero's personal nod to that relationship, as well as an appropriate statement of 50's modernism.

Gorgeous!

If such words may be applied to architecture. Another Eero Saarinen classic! I love the colorful lighting effects. I wonder if they were permanent or just created for this photo.

[There are no "colorful lighting effects." -Dave]

The Design Center was just one part of the GM Tech Center. And it makes sense that they would want a dramatic visual statement in the place where artists are designing the next generation of Motorama show cars, Harley Earl's Buick LeSabre and later Bill Mitchell's Corvette Sting Ray. The exterior was constantly used as the backdrop for photos of GM's dream cars. I hope GM's corporate troubles of the last few years have not diminished their architectural legacy. I still hope to visit one day to see for myself.

Student Lounge Furniture

I know the table and sofa were very expensive and made by a Designer, but that's what furniture like that has always reminded me of.

Weebles

Wobble, but they don't fall down!

Jane...his wife.

This looks like something that George Jetson would have driven to work every day. It's a shame it doesn't have the bubble on top!

Machine-Age Beauty

This lobby is, I think, the pinnacle of post-war mid-century modern design, and why I became an architect. Unfortunately, it only lasted until the end of the JFK 'Camelot' era, whereupon it went downhill faster than an Edsel sales chart - we lost the excitement, the exuberance of looking to the future in favor of the allure of the cheap, mass-produced, "get it today and throw it away tomorrow" culture we are currently mired in, as evidenced by every crummy strip mall, dull office park and 'McMansion' suburb. We gave up Marilyn Monroe and got Honey Boo Boo in exchange.

Ikea Bowl

As stunning as that workplace is in terms of shape, color, texture and space, the poor woman looks like food.

Detroit was a wonder

I would compare Detroit from the 1920s to the 1950s to Silicon Valley.

It attracted the best engineering talent. It generated a huge amount of wealth. Which attracted a huge pool of craftsmen and artists.

I lived in the Detroit suburbs for a few years in the 2000s, and the works of architecture and design in the region are astounding.

Her sister

Her sister had a similar post in the Metalunan Air Force, as seen on the silver screen a year before Korab's Kodachrome. "This Island Earth" 1955.

Run for your lives!

It's a Disneyland teacup gone rogue!

(Actually it's pretty darn beautiful, and a million times better than the cheap laminate cubicle I'm stuck in all day.)

My wife observes

The cleaning staff probably hated getting under the bottom of that thing.

 
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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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