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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 • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

Alley Dwelling: 1935

Alley Dwelling: 1935

1935. Washington, D.C. "Alley dwelling. The clutter of filth, debris and tin cans all have highly utilitarian purposes. [Whatever that means.] Many of the houses are without gas, water, or electric connections." A Harris & Ewing photo from the mid-1930s, using what by then was the anachronistic medium of the 4x5 glass negative, but with subject matter that was on the cutting edge of what was being documented by the Federal Government's various New Deal (Farm Security Administration, etc.) photographic efforts. View full size.

 

Utilitarian purposes

What the caption probably means is that the inhabitants of this neighborhood have to be very resourceful with what little they have available, and can make use out of things most people would regard as trash.

Value of debris

I think that means that the cans and other scrap metal were sold to scrap dealers, and rags might have been sold to make paper.

 
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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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