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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 • STAY ONE JUMP AHEAD OF TROUBLE, 1945

Teeth Without Plates: 1905

Teeth Without Plates: 1905

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1905. "Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad office, Woodward & Jefferson Aves." A number of familiar Shorpy standbys here: The newsie, the "painless dental parlor," ectoplasmic pedestrians and a cameo by Goebel's beer. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

 

To Coast or Not

It's a little hard to tell but I think the kid's bike didn't have coaster brakes. For starters, they were only invented in 1898, and this fellow doesn't look like he's riding the latest thing. Second, I would think that the hub would be quite a bit fatter. But third, the one characteristic sign of a coaster brake is that that there is a little arm that comes out from the hub and is anchored to the arm of the frame, and I see no sign of this in the photo.

Of bikes and pens

Per the amended "King Lear" I disagree that the kid is part of the scene and/or everyone is looking further to the right.

The bike isn't brakeless: it has a 'coaster brake' inside the rear hub. A slight back peddle pedal activates it. And down here in Florida, anyway, those 'basic' bikes are called Coasters or Cruisers.

The Laughlin Fountain Pens were manufactured in Detroit and seems to have had limited distribution around the country. For some reason, advertisements for them are being sold on eBay, but when I last check only two pens were for sale -- as quite expensive collector items. A brief biography of Mr Laughlin I found says:

No Need for Gas

I'm laughing so hard reading all the signs that I might need some "Vitalized Air".

The entire process is spelled out right in the windows: Teeth without plates are offered in the room just to the right where there are "Gold & Porcelain Crowns". Moving over to the gas sign we find "Extractions Without Pain" in one room and at the next stop is the grand finale:

Hello Operator, give me Heaven

That call box -- a direct line to the man upstairs?

Little has changed

Brakeless bikes, like the one in this great picture, are the 'modern' thing again now. They're called fixies these days.

A different edit of the shot

Much as I like the "King Leer" edit, I don't think it is a fair one. A different crop reveals something else entirely: All three people are looking at something down the street, although whatever it was, it was out of camera range (or ran into the store).

Northwest Corner

All that's missing is

Uneeda Biscuit!

Oh?

This reminds me of my first bike which was too big for me. I finally grew a bit, as I'm sure he did.

Love the expression on his face as he spots the photographer.

Crazy wires

What's with the crazy wires that come out of the dentist office window- make a circuitous trip up to top floor then back down and into the sporting good store next door.

Goebel's -- the "Luxury Beer"

A new assignment

I want to try to determine exactly when bikes started appearing with fenders attached.

Loooooooove this picture

To me, this epitomizes every reason I visit Shorpy.... for the kind of minute details I see in these images. I loved everything in this one. I had grandparents born in the 1870s and can only wonder how they felt about the modern inventions just coming into their lives.

Fountain pens at 20 paces

I'm curious about the oversize shotgun (punt gun?) seemingly suspended in midair near the Laughlin fountain pen sign.

[It's advertising the Cassius M. Havens sporting goods store below. Or possibly the Painless Dentist. - Dave]

Modern Dentistry

Again, Shorpy jumps the gun, Teeth Without Plates, America's first implants.

Teeth without plates?

OMIGOD!! Does that mean some Dr. Painless was trying to do dental implants in 1905? I hope the bar downstairs had plenty of Canadian Club under their sign for those poor suckers.

[I'd imagine that "teeth without plates" meant crowns and bridgework. - Dave]

King Leer

Note the guy checking out the chick, although given her clothes coverage, he must have a discerning eye.

Goebel's

This Reich will last a thousand beers!

Which corner?

Assuming the shot was taken in the afternoon, that would be the northeast corner of Woodward and Jefferson. The site is now occupied by the City-County building, subsequently renamed the Coleman A. Young building. The current structure was built in 1954.

[Our view is of the odd-numbered addresses on both streets -- the northwest corner. - Dave]


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Can someone enlighten me?

What on earth is/was Vitalized Air? Some sort of anaesthetic, I'm guessing since it's listing with "laughing gas". Chlorform perhaps?

Also, I keep expecting the guy leaning against the post to whisper "Hey lady, wanna buy a watch?" and open his jacket to show them sewn into the lining...

Painless or not

I don't find the picture of a naked molar comforting.

McGough's Chop House

Half a spring chicken and a Goebel's cool lager would taste pretty good right now.

 
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