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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Bee Movie: 1939

Bee Movie: 1939

July 1939. "The main street, Chatham Avenue, of Siler City, North Carolina." Photo by Dorothea Lange for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Bank Shot

This is Chatham Avenue at Raleigh Street looking north. The Chatham Bank building is gone, but the buildings on the west side of the street have survived.

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Human beings!

Several old photos from Siler City show lots of folks walking or standing on the sidewalks, just passing the time of day with their neighbors.

In photos of the same places today, few if any people are visible on the sidewalks. Thus, the contemporary scenes seem sterile and uninviting.

The difference is not unique to Siler City, of course.

Chatham Ave. at E. Raleigh

Google Maps doesn't have a very clear view replicating this old photograph (that I can find), but it appears that the old photograph is a view looking North-north-west up Chatham Avenue across East Raleigh Street in Siler. The Chatham Bank on the corner is now gone, but the distinctive old building remaining is up Chatham Avenue on the right, a finial-topped little 'gothic' building surviving as the "Hotel Hadley"

Domes v flats

There are five domed covers over what appear to be utility hand holes (they're too small to be man holes)in the street. Today such covers are flat. Were domed covers common in 1939?

[In the days before lane striping was common, such metal domes were used to direct traffic at intersections. In my home town of Larkspur, California, two were still in place through the 1950s, until they were eventually paved over. -tterrace]

The Happy Car

In the center of the street is a 1939 Chrysler which, because of the dip in the center of the front bumper, looks like something that was meant to be in the movie "Cars."

The model name on the leading edge of the hood is too out of focus to read, but the car is likely to be a Royal or Royal Windsor which combined totaled 45,955 out of Chrysler's 67,749 cars produced that year. There were no Chrysler convertibles in 1939, but you could order a Saratoga or New Yorker with a sun roof. Only 239 cars were ordered with the option.


In the South, we have Belk Department Stores. I think I see one in this photo down on the left. Back when I was a kid, they were known colloquially as Belk's. The company also signed and marketed them that way. My family didn't shop there; too rich for our blood.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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