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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 • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

Jackknife Bridge: 1907

Jackknife Bridge: 1907

Chicago circa 1907. "Jack-Knife Bridge, Chicago River." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative by Hans Behm, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Inspiration

I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to share it here, but this picture reminded me that the previous jack-knife bridge photo inspired me to research and write a song about the grain scoopers of Buffalo. Thanks, Shorpy.

See that piece of wood?

I used to row on the Chicago River. It's actually one of the best rivers in the US for rowing. Anyhoo, I used to always wonder what those footings were for when I'd pass them heading backwards. I would mostly scull, and have to watch out for (1) huge pieces of wood like that shown in the pic (they could wreck your shell), (2) barges (they sneak up on you b/c they blend in with the water and are silent) and (3) dead bodies. Never saw a dead body, but I did see lots of dead rats. Once, when I was on a stretch of the river south of this picture, I looked up, and a cop was at the water's edge smoking a cigarette. I'm sure I looked like a pretentious yuppie to him. I slowed down a bit. It was 5 a.m. Sun was just coming up. He took a drag on the cig, exhaled and said, "Seen any dead bodies?" Stunned, I replied, "No." He shook his head, turned to leave and said, "You will. You will." True story. I loved rowing on the Chicago River. I felt like I was rowing through history.

The Pacific

What a beautiful launch! Apparently set up for passengers, probably as a shuttle. I would love to know what happened to her.

One of my favorite Chicago bridges

Known, I believe, as the Metropolitan Elevated bridge, these tracks also carried the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban trains to its station on Wells Street (or more accurately Fifth Street at that time) just south of Jackson Boulevard. I assume this view is looking north, since the bridge structure at right would carry trains over the ground level tracks below, just south of where Union Station stands now. To this day, you can still see part of what appear to be the original footings of this bridge along the west side of the Chicago River between the Jackson and Van Buren Street bridges.

 
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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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