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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 • FRENCH BICYCLE GODDESS, c. 1898

Des Moines: 1940

Des Moines: 1940

May 1940. "Afternoon, downtown Des Moines, Iowa." View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration.

 

Hotel Franklin

The image is looking north on 5th Avenue at Locust. One can tell the direction and street by the bend in the road in the near distance. In the downtown area, only streets on the north edge (mostly numbered streets) bend that way.

The Franklin Hotel became a rat trap by the '70s and was torn down toward the end of that decade or in the 1980s.

The people look reasonably well-dressed, but so thin -- almost gaunt in some cases. Busby Berkeley indeed.

Des Moines

Does anyone know where in Des Moines this is? I'm sure it's downtown. I tried to search for Hotel Franklin, but came up with nothing.

[The Hotel Franklin was at Fifth and Locust. - Dave]

All Together Now

Now all together, put your right foot forward. Hmnnn, how did Busby Berkeley, I mean John Vachon ever get all them folks to synchronize like that, now that's a photographer.

 
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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