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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 • PROTECT HER FROM TUBERCULOSIS

W.M. Freeny: 1920

W.M. Freeny: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "W.M. Freeny Co., front." The W.M. Freeny men's clothing store on 14th Street. National Photo Co. glass negative. View full size.

 

Albert G Spalding

"So was this store part of a chain?"

Yes. Spalding Sporting Goods began when Albert Spalding opened his first sporting goods store in Chicago in 1875 or '76 with his brother. Spalding was a well known pitcher and by 1876 was playing with the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) so his name on a store was going to drive traffic. Spalding published the first guide to the rules of baseball, and an annual Baseball Guide. By 1901 the store in Chicago had grown to a chain of 14 stores. Spalding died in 1915 but the company still exists, although not as a retail entity - it is Spalding Sporting Goods and produces balls for many sports - although as far as I can tell from their website, they no longer make baseballs.

Where's the window cleaner?

The ladder is very likely a widow cleaner's. There are at least a couple of window cleaners here who ply there business walking from location to location, carrying their equipment including a ladder like this.

Sporting Spalding

Amazing detective work! So was this store part of a chain?

Shorpy viewers are the best!

As soon as I saw this shot, I wondered just how quickly we'd know about the businesses on either side. You guys are just great. Thank you and Happy Fourth to all!

[More on Velati Caramels here and here. - Dave]

Freeny lit up

Looks like a warm late afternoon when this pic was snapped. I would love to have seen what the Freeny sign looked like at night, all lit up.

Velati Caramels

My dad always said that if he had his life to live over, he'd live over a delicatessen. I might choose the Velati Famous Caramels shop.

Mysterious Ladder

That looks like an extension ladder for work in trees, or maybe street lamps. Fruit pickers had ladders like these, narrow at the top to make them easier to use in the branches, but it would work as well on sidewalk light standards. Probably not the photographer's. The shop window it's propped against (glass already cracked) looks like maybe the display window for a pawn broker. There's also a set of golf clubs and a croquet set in the window with the police trophy, and maybe a radio tuner. The odd array of giblets for sale isn't packed densely enough for a hardware or sporting goods store.

[It's the A.G. Spalding & Bros. sporting goods store at 613 14th Street -- A.G. being Albert Goodwill Spalding of baseball fame. - Dave]

Flotsam and jetsam

Strange that the photographer would have left that ugly ladder standing there to detract from his photo. And what in the world is it that was won by the Police in 1917? We'll probably never know......

I remember haberdasheries

whose well-trained clerks who worked in such fine stores supplying all manner of men's furnishings. Harry Truman was one before he became president. And they provided such good service that they would do free alterations to make your clothes fit perfectly, even if they were not custom-made.

And then, if you found clothes that would fit, you could go next-door to Velati's and stock up on famous caramels, bonbons, chocolates and pastries.

This was what a typical Main Street looked like when I was young and I must say, I found it much more personal than going into a cavernous super huge warehouse that sells everything under the sun, you push a massive, two-story shopping cart, walk a mile or more to find ALL your needs and finally take a number to check out. Believe me young ones, some things were better in the olden days.

 
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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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