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.
Philadelphia circa 1910. "City Hall." Philadelphia's soot-stained City Hall, still the largest municipal building in the United States, was for a time the tallest building in the world, at 548 feet. Its epic scope includes the time it took to complete, with construction beginning in 1871 and dragging on well into the 20th century -- the project's main architect died in 1890; his successor's successor expired in 1910, still on the job nine years after the building had been turned over to the city. So glacial was the pace of construction, according to one history, that a major round of revisions had to be undertaken to account for "the invention of electricity and elevators." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.