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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 • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

Chicago: 1915

Chicago: 1915

Chicago circa 1915. "Van Buren Street Station. View north along Michigan Avenue." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

The Glass Gas Ceiling

The big white building in front of the Art Institute is the Peoples Gas Co. building, completed in 1910.

Here are two shots (date unknown) of the interior showing the gorgeous glass ceiling. I wish I could find more photos of the interior of the building.

Van Buren Street Station

This is the Illinois Central disgorging passengers at Van Buren Street station. The rail yards on the far right have now been covered over by Grant Park.

The building at the northwest corner of Jackson and Michigan is the Railway Exchange (later the Santa Fe building). My father-in-law's office, 40 years later, was on the 15th floor, northeast corner, visible in this pic.

Daniel Burnham's Big Buildings

The two largest buildings in this photo are both works of the office of D. H. Burnham & Co.: the Railway Exchange (now the Santa Fe Center) at left, built 1903-1904, and the People's Gas Building at right, built 1910-1911. The two-bay "penthouse" perched atop the cornice of the Railway Exchange was originally occupied by part of the Burnham architectural office; it was cut back during the building's restoration in the 1980s so that it is no longer visible from the street. This small change made a distinct improvement in the building's appearance.

The Art Institute of Chicago

I was just thinking of this place the other day. The building in the foreground background is the Art Institute of Chicago. Every year after Thanksgiving, they put the wreaths around the necks of the lions that stand in front of the building.

The area still looks fairly similar to what it looked like back in 1915. The train tracks are still there, and most of the buildings along Michigan Avenue are still there.

Route 66!

On our left, the first two large buildings and that interesting tiny one have been replaced.

Next, the intersection of Michigan and Jackson Drive. In the summer of 1926 Jackson Drive would become the very start of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles!

The next two buildings are today known as the Sante Fe Building and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

And of course the Art Institute overlooks the train station.

The Spirit of Progress

The statue atop the Montgomery Ward building was later moved a couple of miles to Ward's Chicago Avenue building, where she still resides. She is depicted on many Ward's stores around the country.

 
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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