SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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6000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
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Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

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About the Photos

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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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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.

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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]

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Best deal I ever made!

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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.

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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