SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Southern Pacific blacksmith shop. In Oakland?

Southern Pacific blacksmith shop. In Oakland?

As far as I know, this is a photo of the crew at the Blacksmith Shops for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Oakland, California. My grandfather (front and center with the rakishly tilted hat) worked for the railroad for some small portion of his life. His draft card for World War I listed him at the railroad in the blacksmith shop. By the '30's, he'd started a laundry business elsewhere in Oakland.

He'd emigrated from the Azore Islands to California in around 1915, following other brothers and sisters who'd already left the impoverished islands for the opportunity of the United States. I can't imagine he was too many years off the boat when this photo was taken, a new immigrant settling into life in California.

I've always liked this, both as a cool posed shot of an industrial shop and by the tools of the trade each worker carries (especially the welder to the far left). Unlike all the school photos that got saved, it's like every guy in the photo has some emotion on his face, and some story behind it. Why's the big guy at the right side in the front row look like a superhero, so sure and happy? What's the Richard Gere look-alike (the welder) thinking? What's the guy second from the left in the front row staring at off in the distance? View full size.

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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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