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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 • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Condemned: 1939

Condemned: 1939

Savannah, Georgia, circa 1939. "Fahm Street, west side. Row houses built about 1850. Torn down 1940 for Yamacraw Village housing." You can't stop progress. 8x10 inch acetate negative by Frances Benjamin Johnston. View full size.

 

"You should have seen what used to be there"

I used to work with a woman who grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood that was later razed for the notorious (to say the least) Stateway Gardens and Robert Taylor Homes, and she would say that, bad as those places were (and they too have since been razed), you should have seen what used to be there -- wooden shacks, buildings falling over, unpaved streets in the middle of Chicago in the middle of the 20th century. Charles Cushman's incredible photos give a good idea. The lady I worked with was more than happy with the upgrade and her father lived in one of those high-rises for the rest of his life with no thought of moving.

Some Progress

I was expecting some concrete nightmare, but it doesn't look that bad - and the new buildings echo the style of the old:


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Urban Renewal

These "shacks" lasted 89 years before they were razed to make way for progress. I wonder how their successors have fared after a mere 70 years.

Questionable upgrade

I bet there are many who would gladly trade in their apartment in a crime-ridden "project" for a more personal "shack." Those houses were old and creaky, but they were little houses and they could be fixed up rather nicely.

A matter of perspective

Nowadays we tend to think of public housing projects as the modern equivalent of tenement housing. Think of what an improvement a housing project would have been to the folks living in these shacks.

 
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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