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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 • BRIDGE AT ARGENTEUIL, 1874

Motown: 1915

Motown: 1915

The Motor City circa 1915. "Campus Martius, Detroit." With the Dime Savings Bank rising behind City Hall. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.

 

Missing Building?

Love this shot, but found the "original" at the LOC's American Memory site and found an extra building in the background just right of center. Also, the rest of the right side of the images appear identical, but the left sides are not. The two men walking near the street lamp on the lower left of the Shorpy view do not appear below in the LOC shot.

[Viewed full-size, it's clear the "missing building" is a painting. Undoubtedly a case of creative re-use of an older photo for an up-to-date postcard. At that size, and colored, it wouldn't be obvious. - tterrace]

Penobscot Building

The short building to the left behind the City Hall is the original 13-story 1903 Penobscot Building.

There were two later additions: 22-story and 47-story. In the current view, you can see the base of the 47-story tower adjacent to the Dime Bank Building.

The strange flag

The building just left of City Hall - the Hammond Building - is flying a large and unusual flag. Part of the explanation appears on the Hammond Building's page on buildingsofdetroit.com: "Captains of freighters headed up the Detroit River would look to the Hammond’s roof, where flags during the day and oil lanterns by night signaled storm conditions on the Great Lakes." On days when the Tigers were playing, a white flag with a blue circle flew. But I can't identify a weather flag that includes a circle. Solutions?

Old City Hall, RIP

City Hall lived to the ripe old age of 90, at which time it seemed to be generally regarded as something of a money pit, firetrap and eyesore. Although it did have its partisans -- there's an entertaining account here of competing efforts to save it and tear it down over the years.

Finally razed in August 1961, City Hall was replaced by Kennedy Square Park, current site of 1 Kennedy Square.

Getting to Know You

Old photos never cease to intrigue me, and bring on a number of emotions. All those people, now long gone, captured for one instant. And in cases like this, never even knowing their pic had been taken, let alone imagining that 100 years later other people would be looking at it via undreamed of technology.

Dime building

The Dime Building may be the shorter one to the left of city hall.

[The tall building is the 23-story Dime Savings Bank. Now called the Dime Building. The old Dime bank is the shorter building. Below, a current view showing the Dime Building upper right. Campus Martius is in the traffic circle with Woodward Avenue running from top left to bottom right. - Dave]

Right Hand Drive

Aren't all three of the cars near the lower-right of the picture right-hand drive? That seems odd at such a late date.

[Many, if not most, motor vehicles in the United States in 1913 used right-hand drive. Ford, an early LHD adopter, made the switch in 1908 with the Model T. - Dave]

Don't worry, tired horsies

Detroit City has a plan to get you some rest. No more work hauling freight in the city for you!

Vertigo

Dig the window-washer on the Dime building opposite the top of the clock tower. Also that fire escape running up the side looks terrifying!

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
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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