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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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South Water Street Terminal: 1943

South Water Street Terminal: 1943

April 1943. Illinois Central R.R. freight cars at the South Water Street freight terminal, Chicago. The C & O and Nickel Plate Railroads lease part of this terminal. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano.

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Chicago certainly had a more elegant skyline back then, didn't it?


The outside (uncropped) dimensions are 4x5. Many of these were taken with Speed Graphic press cameras.


If the dimensions are indeed 4.3 by 3.4 inches, then this was most probably taken with a 3¼ X 4¼ Graflex, which was a popular professional camera of the time. Graflexes were big reflex cameras made from the 20s until after WW2. They lost their popularity to more modern equipment and today can be found only on eBay...


Thanks Steve! Here is one from 1943. I reversed it so the lettering isn't backward:


The numbers indicate the batch number of a particular run of film. Photographer who shot may images over a short period of time always tried to buy film of the same batch number to try to insure some color consistancy from box to box of film.

Steve Crise


Its 4x5 for sure. Thing I'd like to know is if it is indeed Kodachrome. I know 4x5 Kodachrome did exist in the 1950's. However I'm not sure about 1944. I tried looking up code notches on a Kodak web site but they didn't go back that far. I was able to confirm based on the notches that is at least on Safety Film and not a nitrate base.

Steve Crise


Thanks for the info. Along the edge it says "EASTMAN -- SAFETY -- KODAK 62" (they all seem to be KODAK 62 or KODAK 3) and in two places is the number 679. Some of the others also have 679. Others have 678 or 640. The dimensions seem to be about 4.3 by 3.4 inches.


You asked about the format. It looks like 4x5. It's sheet film -- you can see the sheet film ID notches and and marks from the developing hangers, which are only used on sheet film. It's proportioned like 4x5 or 8x10. It looks like 4x5 because of the sizes of the notches and hanger marks relative to the size of the picture.

I think that back in the early days Kodachrome was made in sheet film sizes. I can't read the ID on the edge of the image, but that should tell you.

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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