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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 • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

It Pays to Flirt: 1918

It Pays to Flirt: 1918

Washington, D.C., April 1918. "Downtown construction." Excavation with a theatrical backdrop. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

 

Steam shovels and rollers

As one who also still calls those big pavement-flattening jobbers "steam" rollers, I find it indescribably gratifying to know that people salvage, restore, collect and exhibit such things. Thinking about the logistics involved in such a hobby is mind-boggling, though.

The truck

What kind is it?

[Service Motor Truck Co. of Wabash, Indiana. - Dave]

Sidewalk Superintendent

Progress never stops but men always do, like the one on the fence, to watch a construction project.

Thew in action

At least one Thew steam shovel survives and operates:

Typical City Job

Two working and nine watching.

Clifton Webb

I was surprised to see Clifton Webb -- but it turns out he was already about 30 at this point.

Thew Shovel Co.

Founded in 1899 by Richard Thew, a Lake Erie freighter captain interested in the problems of handling iron ore and coal. He invented a new kind of shovel that revolved 360 degrees and could dig and deliver material from any position. More here.

Mary-Anne!

My four-year-old never gets tired of Mike Mullligan and his steam shovel Mary-Anne. I had never seen the real thing before. Thanks for posting this!

Cute shovels

They're straight out of Mike Mulligan. I suppose they only held one or two yards of dirt in those tiny buckets. Still, they were at least an order of magnitude faster than people with shovels.

 
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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