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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Detroit: 1897

Detroit: 1897

Circa 1897. "Post Office, Detroit." Sign on utility pole: "Please do not spit on the sidewalk." 8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Then & Now

Hey guys, I couldn't resist this one, I just went out on the bike to get an "after" photograph of this view. Enjoy!


Looks like John Cleese doing his Silly Walk in front of the library.

It is quite odd to find nothing at all remaining from this wide swath. Many buildings from this era are still in place - any drive through Detroit shows that.

Federal Building

There's quite a history of this place, as well as more photos, over at:

Smooth pavement

I can't help feeling a bit of envy by looking at that smooth pavement on the street. Notable that this was taken at a time when the automobile was still considered a fad, a mere toy for the idle wealthy, and was not still being used as a regular means of transportation.

High Stepping

What's with the man high stepping in the street, a block back?

[He's getting on a bicycle. - Dave]

A short trip

Seems ironic that there should need to be a letterbox across the street from the world's largest post office.

Sidewalk Sign Envy

I would like to time travel and swipe some of the polite requests to refrain from spitting on the sidewalk, and bring them to current day Boston to be posted. The sidewalks are covered with spit and gum, and there is nothing quite like walking behind a spitter. That is particularly true on a windy day.

Back to the photo, the post office is magnificent! I wonder if it had spittoons inside.

Fort and Shelby

The old post office in Detroit was on the northeast corner of West Fort and Shelby. Nothing in this photo remains today.

Not in Austin

The ones in Austin were built in Indiana.

[They may have been manufactured in Indiana, but, as noted below, they were purchased used by Austin from Detroit. - Dave]

Alright, alright, alright ...

"Party at the Moon Tower."

Moon tower!

That looks exactly like one of the "moonlight towers" of Austin, Texas -- and according to Wikipedia, they were purchased used from Detroit in 1894. I wonder if that's one of the ones residing in Austin now.


From the woman's attire in the right background, (white blouse, dark skirt--not quite in an "A" line, probably a boater hat), I guess that this was taken in 1892. If she is not quite in fashion, then 1893.

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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