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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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The Ryan: 1905

The Ryan: 1905

St. Paul, Minnesota, circa 1905. "Ryan Hotel." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

A lot of work

I can't imagine sitting down at a drafting board and coming up with something this ornate. Then think of the poor masons who had to build it in Minnesota weather. How much would it cost to reproduce something like that today?

High maintenance

When I look at this I think of maintenance costs. It's fascinating to see something with such ornate detail -- but imagine it today and think of all the work that would be required, especially in a freeze/thaw climate. Look at the slate roof -- when one of those shingles lets go, look out below! Modern architecture is very simple and generally uninteresting by comparison, but it's relatively low maintenance. Had this been preserved you would have to be paying $600 a night!

Call boxes

On the corner, you can see a police or fire department call box. These were considered a great innovation at the time, and cities spent a lot of money installing them. Prior to the call boxes, policemen would have to summon help by hollering or using whistles.

Grand View

I wonder who had access to the sitting area above that entrance. Another wonderful spot to sip a whiskey and enjoy a good cigar while watching the busy world pass you by. And not care one whit.

A popular and opulent place

There are so many images of this luxury hotel on the web. It lasted from 1882 to 1962, and had many, many postcards made of it.

But it makes sense that there must be shots like this of hundreds and hundreds of hotels like the Ryan, all across the country. Every large hotel had to have its postcards available for use.

What a fascinating book it would be to see the history of hotels in postcards, from various cities. Dave, if we asked you super-nicely, would you put up images from the cities we request, such as our hometowns?

Thank you for this one. It originally gives the impression of faceless, ubiquitous homogeneity. But it delights with its small, sudden discoveries.

[I guess you could say it was opular. Or populent. - Dave]

A magnificent memory

The Hotel Ryan was demolished in 1962 and the site was a parking lot for the next 19 years. I wished I could have seen it, in person, in its heyday.


Talk about ornate! Oh and Dave, I'll be sending you a bill for eyeglasses -- my search for milk has left me feeling the computer screen.

First skyscraper

The first building in St. Paul greater than 6 floors. Read more here.

Short Line to Chicago

But only if it's on one of those electric lighted trains.

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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