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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 • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Brooklyn Bridge: 1900

Brooklyn Bridge: 1900

New York circa 1900. "Brooklyn Bridge, East River." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Public and Private Transit

The development of the "ubiquitous gasoline engine", and the parallel development of petroleum, was the key required to unlock the door to personal vehicles. We could have conceivably gone with electric propulsion, but electricity didn't become widespread until the late 1800's and it was generally in an inconvenient form for recharging slow, heavy, and quick-to-run-down battery powered cars. The light, speedy, indefatigable, and ultimately cheap gas motor won the day. Throughout the 19th century, occasional experimenters demonstrated steam-powered carriages or "road locomotives" but the skills and attention required to manage a steam engine were unrealistic for a solo driver, and the roads were dreadful due to travel being diverted to railroads. Large bridges were built to carry railroads, street car lines, and a smattering of foot and horse traffic.

[Steam-powered automobiles (Dobie, Stanley etc.) attained a certain measure of popularity. In the final years of the 19th century, the Stanley brothers' steam-powered vehicle was America's top-selling motor car. The company they founded lasted a quarter of a century. - Dave]

Re: Best deal I ever made!

Cool, I'll give you a call once my Nigerian money comes through.

Best deal I ever made!

Only paid $500, and I've got the title to prove it.

Age of Steam and Horses

Each time a see a circa 1900 urban scene on Shorpy, I ponder how technology was so slow in developing the automobile in comparison to the other machines and structures in existence at the time. I am alway struck by the incongruity of large urban buildings surrounded by horse drawn wagons. This picture really drives the point home. Let us not forget that the unseen traffic crossing this magnificent bridge at its opening was mostly horse-drawn or pedestrian. The big boats in the water were steam powered. The age of the ubiquitous gasoline engine was yet to come.

 
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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