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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

Parlor Portrait 1916

Parlor Portrait 1916

San Francisco c.1916 My mother's family and their chandelier posed for a portrait shot on a 5x7 glass plate in their home at 1834 15th St. On the floor, my mother and her twin brother Albert. Seated, John and Marie. Standing to either side, Francis and Mary. View full size.

Gas/Electric fixtures

The gas pillars wouldn't have had glass shades -- they were meant to resemble candles, including an open flame. The Mission/Craftsman style of the fixture shows that it was probably not even 10 years old in 1916 (the house doesn't look much older, for that matter).

My house didn't get electricity until 1926, and it's right in the middle of the city. Electricity, even in the so-called "City of Light" that Buffalo claimed to be, was so expensive that only the wealthy could afford it until the late 1920s. Buffalo rates in 1910 translate to $2.40 per meter click, compared to my current (high) rate of around 22 cents!

Gas/Electric Chandelier

My sister has pointed out that our grandparents' chandelier is a combination gas/electric model. Fixtures of this kind were common in the later 1800s when newfangled electrical supply was not as reliable as tried-and-true gas. On this one, the upward-pointing things that look like stubby candles are the gas fixtures, and the fact that they no longer have glass shades is an indication that they'd been long unused at this point. Click here to enlarge.

 
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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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