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.
Washington, D.C., circa 1917. "Washington Gas Light holders at 26th and G streets N.W." These relics of the gaslight era ("two of Washington's biggest stinkers") were scrapped around 1947. Just about every city of any size in the latter half of the 19th century had its "gashouse district" -- a rough neighborhood dominated by smelly holding tanks for the municipal gas plant, where coal was gasified to make "city gas" (generally either "coal gas" or "water gas," depending on the process) for illumination. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.