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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 • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Joy Committee: 1938

Joy Committee: 1938

Summer 1938. "Street scene, New York." With your choice of refreshment, shiny shoes and "dancing on the water." Photo by Jack Allison. View full size.

 

Survivors Sailed Away

A policeman on shore watches as an excursion ship leaves the the 132d Street pier on its way up the Hudson River after three were killed and forty injured in an attempt to board the oversold craft for a Nergo Odd Fellows annual picnic, Harlem, New York, August 18, 1941. Three men were alter arrested for selling phony tickets. Weegee titled this photograph '1250 decided to continue the trip.' The number probably refers to surviving passengers. (Photo by Weegee(Arthur Fellig)/International Center of Photography/Getty Images)

Weegee and the excursion boat

On August 17, 1941, panic swept a crowd of Negro Odd Fellows waiting to board the State of Delaware. About forty people were injured and three women were killed. Weegee, New York's great crime scene photographer, was there, and he took a fine shot of the boat steaming away from the pier. He captioned it, "1250 Decided to Continue the Trip."

His print is now in the International Center of Photography, and the August 18 New York Times article "3 Women Are Killed in Riot on Harlem Excursion Pier" is available online.

Joy Committee Boatride


New York Amsterdam News, July 2, 1938.

Boat Ride Promising

Garnering the major share of the week's spotlight in the social world is the third annual moonlight boatride being sponsored by the Joy Committee of Fifteen this Friday evening. The affair, one of the high spots of the local warm season, is expected to draw a capacity crowd.

The luxurious SS. “State of Delawaree” has been reserved for the occasion, one of the most attractive vessels now plying the river. It leaves the 132nd street pier at 9 p.m.

On board will be a modern swing orchestra to provide music for those who wish to dance and an abundance of delicious refreshments and diverting amusements for patrons who are weary of “tripping the light fantastic.”

The Joy Committee of Fifteen, an organization comprising a group of the best known club folk in Harlem, originated the boatride three years ago. At first banding together in an effort to bring about closer cooperation among the countless social clubs of the community, the body soon found itself expected to enter the social swing itself.

A dance which proved a great success was the first such venture. When the warm season set in the boatride was launched and the turned out such an overwhelming enjoyable outing that it was promptly made an annual affair.

Each year, then, this sail has been eagerly awaited by Harlem social set and announcement not long ago of the present one aroused unusual interest and enthusiasm, giving the excursion the brightest prospects.

The Joy Committee is headed by Irvine J. Hines, a shining light in the club world, and others on the staff include Johnny Waddy, Eugene Smith, Wilfred Carter, Cyril Stephens and many others.

Never in his wildest dreams

The man seen through the window of the Coca Cola bar could not even have imagined, in 1938, that 75 yrs. later, he would be a subject in this nostalgic photo, featured on Shorpy, on home computers around the world. The shoe shine man may have been aware that his picture was being taken but he also would have had no way of comprehending that in the near future it would be a common occurrence for most people to have personal home computers on which he was frozen in time for a worldwide audience. They both may be long gone from this world, but here they are preserved permanently, living and breathing. Where else can your image live forever, except on film?

The State of Delaware

was launched at the yard of Pusey & Jones at Wilmington, Delaware, on 3 April 1923, hull no. 1024, one of two identical sisters built by the yard (the other being the State of Pennsylvania) for the Wilmington Steamboat Company. Based on one of the first designs by leading American naval architect George Sharp, the vessels proved quite successful in the seasonal day excursion trade on the Delaware River and Bay, and in 1929 became part of the famous Wilson Line. In 1936, seeking new markets, the Wilson Line transferred the State of Delaware to New York City, where it ran excursions such as that described in the poster out of the Battery. The War Shipping Administration requisitioned the vessel on 25 March 1943 and transferred it to the Rubber Development Corporation, a a quasi-government sponsored consortium of rubber producers established to oversee all wartime rubber production. After extensive refitting, the vessel sailed for Rio de Janeiro, probably as an accommodations vessel for rubber plantation workers. Renamed Guarujá, it was abandoned at Niterói, Brazil, in 1947, probably after briefly serving in the passenger trade between Rio and São Paulo.

Snake plant

Inside the diner next door, the classic snake plant, sansevieria trifasciata. Also known as mother-in-law's tongue. In China it is tiger's tail, in Turkey pasha sword, in Brazil sword of Saint George. In the Yoruba religion (Africa), it is associated with Ogoun, a deity who is the patron of smiths and is usually displayed with a machete or sabre. Personally, I associate this plant with the doctor's office waiting rooms of my youth.

 
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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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