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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 • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Expert Truss Fitting: 1900

Expert Truss Fitting: 1900

"Main Street, Buffalo, N.Y., circa 1900." The merchants of Buffalo, aside from making that fine city a haven for the herniated, also offered a wide range of "deformity appliances." Detroit Publishing Co. glass negative. View full size.

 

Oh that logo

official logo

The Pan-American Exposition Company chose Raphael Beck's design from over 400 entries, awarded him $100. They copyrighted it as the official logo in 1899. At first the design was to be used only for "dignified purposes," but due to its popularity, the decision was made to license its use. The logo was soon available on souvenirs of every conceivable description and was plastered on "everything that didn't move and some things that did." Some unscrupulous vendors ignored the licensing process and sold unofficial souvenirs with the logo. Here is a plate and a watch souvenir (both official):

plate

watch

Beck made sketches of President McKinley when the president toured the fair and made a speech there. After McKinley died Beck completed the painting titled "President McKinley Delivering His Last Great Speech at the Pan-American Exposition, Sept. 5, 1901."

Beck went on to design the logo for the 1905 Portland, Oregon Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition. His father Augustus—who designed the bas relief at the base of the Washington Monument—named his son after the famous painter Raphael.

CSI: Buffalo

Nice Cigar Store Indian on the right.

Leroy not Lockport

Leroy is the home of Jell-O, not Lockport! Visit the jello museum in Leroy to learn more about the product invented by a man named Pearl.

Look out above!

The top three floors of the Iroquois were "superadded" for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. In 1923, owner Ellsworth Statler opened another hotel, and the Iroquois became the Gerrans Office Building. The building with the tower was transformed into one of the earliest movie theaters, the Strand.

Steve Miller
Someplace near the crossroads of America

Trolly cars

They mean Trolly cars.

[Or maybe trolley cars. ("Cars" = streetcars.) - Dave]

Pan-American Expo

That's the logo for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo -- where President McKinley was shot and later died.

Bustling Buffalo

Nothing is more depressing than seeing the once-bustling major city that is now Buffalo. Interesting that the streetcar was the main mode of public transportation, and yet the newer "metro" line (consisting of one short rail from HSBC to the University of Buffalo) has contributed to the death of downtown.

The Globe

Sure would like to be able to see more detail on that globe painted on the left side - looks like the continents have been anthropomorphized into pinup gals.

You Are Here

In response to the many requests seen in comments for a time machine: here you are. Absolutely fantastic picture.

Buffalo

Cool! I stayed a night in Buffalo early last month. Had it still been standing, I would have chosen the Iroquois over the Holiday Inn for sure. Looks like a fun city, but you've never seen anything more depressing than Niagara Falls (the town) in winter.

Lockport

Lockport was and is a neat little city in NW central New York State where canal boats travel down a series of locks. It's fun to watch. The city is also the home of an American standard in every kitchen: Jell-O!

Cars?

Sign says "cars leave every 15 minutes"...I don't see any cars, it's 1900 (or so) What do they mean by "cars"?

[Streetcars. - Dave]

Martha!

And "I Love Lucy."

Niagara Falls!!!!

Niagara Falls!

"Slowly I turned...step by step...inch by inch..."

From the Three Stooges short "Gents Without Cents"

Safe City

That is one safety-conscious city. Note the pedestrian catcher mounted on the front of the trolley.

The Perfect Vignette

What a great photo! The "Signs" signs, the omnipresent hats, the fancy streetlight. I love the advertisement for the "tobacconist"--that would make a catchy little business card, I think. Some people are dentists, some are salespeople, and then there are the tobacconists. And I wonder what got thrown into the wires crossing the street?

I also love the trolleys in the picture--somehow, my daily bus ride doesn't seem quite as cool as this. One question. What is the net in front for? I would guess it's for luggage or large packages?

[The net would be for inattentive or careless pedestrians. - Dave]

No heritage here

So, is this was were the Main Street Mall now resides? Seems all these blocks were demolished. The Iroquois Hotel was torn down in 1940.

Trolleys Then and Now

The open-seat single-truck trolleys seen in this picture (with smoking allowed in the three rear seats only) have long been absent from the City of Buffalo. The line is now the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Buffalo Metro Rail light rail line. Interesting that the tracks on Main Street have survived, while those on Church Street, and all of the surrounding buildings, including the Iroquois Hotel, have all vanished.


View Larger Map

Your neighbor the sign painter

Besides the five (or six or seven) signs of his own, Mr. Scott seems to have painted all the other signs on that building. I wonder if he traded signs for trolly rides, cigars, or deformity appliances.

Shuffle off to Buffalo...

So much detail to take in.
Wonder what a "Deformity Appliance" is.

[I am thinking something along the lines of a super-dangerous cake mixer. - Dave]

Oh My

What a picture. This is definitely a downtown scene. I am curious about the rides to Lockport, Lewiston and Queenston. Are they entrance cities to Canada? Perhaps they are tourist destinations like Niagara Falls. This photo will take a while to gather it all and to understand Buffalo as a major U.S. city at the time.

[Those cities were excursion destinations. - Dave]

Mirror Writing?

The reverse lettering above the motorman's head looks like the back of a glass sign that says SMOKING ENTRANCE REAR SEATS ONLY, whatever that means exactly.

[The signs says "Smoking on three rear seats only." - Dave]

Fireproof indeed!

The fireproof tiles on the roof of the Iroquois were a big selling point after the horrific fire that destroyed the Richmond Hotel, which stood on the same site until 1887.

 
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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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