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About the Photos

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 TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Built for Two: 1921

Built for Two: 1921

January 29, 1921. Washington, D.C. "Herbert Bell and Joe Garso." The one-legged trick bike riders put on a show. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

 

Walker Electric Truck

The Railway Express truck appears to be a Walker Electric. It looks similar to this stuck truck as well as Carry's Ice Cream Truck. There is no nose to speak of, large boxes (battery cases?) between the wheels and virtually identical wheels and hubs.

Foolishness!

The Railway Express guy is not amused.

Transport Modalities

Interesting shot. Love the expressions of the folks in the back-interested and bemused, but not entirely comfortable with what they are seeing.

I also like all the different modes of transportation seen or hinted at in this shot. Is that a homemade Razor Scooter that the kid is holding on the far right? Right by it on the curb looks like a crutch and something looking a lot like a single roller skate. Those non-pneumatic metal truck wheels cast to look like they have wooden spokes are an interesting sign of transition: technology was moving ahead of old ideas about what wheels should look like. Could those people be waiting for a bus? What's that sign behind the paper boy? And it always strikes me to see how relatively little bicycles have changed.

Incidentally, any photo historians know if this was this pretty high speed film for 1921? With all the ghosts in the pictures on Shorpy from just a few years before, I guess we're seeing the fruits of sudden advancement in emulsion technology?

[This picture was made on glass; National Photo didn't start using film until the 1930s. With fast lenses and emulsions, stop-action photography was freezing baseballs as early as 1910. Bus service in Washington was years away; public transport was by streetcar, although there are no tracks to be seen on this street. The ribs cast into those metal wheels on the electric truck are probably there for strength, not looks. The skate belonged to the stuntmen. The sign says "Park - Theater District." And below that probably a time limit. - Dave]

 
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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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