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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 • THE TOY DEPARTMENT, 1913

Well Connected: 1906

Well Connected: 1906

Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1906. "Essex Street, looking north from town square." Our third look at this cable-ready mini-metropolis. 6½ x 8½ inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Daniel Low low prices

The building was constructed as a church in 1826, later enlarged with towers in the 1870s. The, First Church, as it was known, had commercial space on the first floor at least since the 1870s when it got all pointy and gothic. Now home to a restaurant.

Corsets

I know plenty of women in the historical recreation field who wear corsets and with a little training they have no problems. Aside from extreme examples they don't compress the waist as much as they smooth the outline and raise up the bustline. Dresses were made to accentuate the fullness of the breasts and the skirt to make the waist appear even smaller.

One decided advantage of a corset is that a dress can be made to fit the form perfectly without bulges or wrinkles- something that modern styles just won't do.

Wired

Can someone comment on the wires?

A mix of power and telephone, but which are which?

Now, the power lines are higher on the pole than telephone and TV cable - in this time frame is that inverted are or they just mixed?

That would make telephone lineman an extremely dangerous job!

Love the street lights on pulleys to make bulb changing easier. Or was that to turn them on and off to match daylight? Like the people who would light the older gas lamps?

[There's no bulb, but the carbons (electrodes) in the glass globe would burn down and have to be changed. - Dave]

Observed

The Man in the Window is kind of creepy.

Can't ... breathe ...

It's my impression that the smiling woman seems happy to see one of the women walking in the opposite direction.

Another woman that caught my eye is the one on the far right walking next to the woman with a white plume on her hat. You don't get such a sharply defined hourglass figure without some serious cinching involved! Then I realized that most of the women were probably wearing tight corsets, including the lady with the big smile.

Here's the church

There's the steeple, cut off about a third of the way up. Above the two windows in the base of the steeple and in the upper center are three crosses--they are not decorations. Also the cathedral style windows are indicative of a church. It also never ceases to amaze the snappy and snazzy way people of all incomes dressed themselves in those days, even the newsboy is nattily attired in his knickers. Even the two gents on the left dressed in overalls don't seem out of place--they are probably about a specific job for which that is their usual uniform. Everyone has an intrinsic dignity in the way they carry themselves. Not a slob in sight! What a world it must have been!

Up on the Roof

I'm guessing some kind of ventilator, or maybe a dovecote or pigeon coop.

Then and now

I always love when someone post a current photo of the same scene. This one is especially interesting because even though the same buildings are there, everything has changed radically. What fun it would be to see how this transition occurred step by step over the decades.

No more driving down this street

As a resident of Salem I LOVE these local pictures Dave! This is now a pedestrian walking mall, about a block away from the Lyceum (mentioned by Sean Ryan) and if you continue past all the gift shops and witch themed "history" spots, you find the wonderful Peabody Essex Museum.

The newsie on the right

He looks bored. And what's with the guy just to his left, leaning up against the pole? Who or what is he looking at?

I see also that Prudential Insurance Co. of North America has its local office right above the Mercantile National Bank.

And finally, A working clock! (At least I hope it is working) Right there next to the Almy's sign! It reads 12:50 and not an ad in sight!

We are being watched Comrade

On the extreme left someone is peering out of the top window at us. In the previous picture of the Colonial House Cafe there is the image of a man in a window of the building at the corner of the alley. Can it be that we are being followed?

[Possibly. - Dave]

The Lyceum or something.

On my trip to Salem (just to the see the House of Seven Gables!), I was surprised by all the tacky D&D/ Wiccan themed gift shops on this street. There's not much else going on in Salem now. The church like building on the right is an old meeting hall or theater.

Sidewalk drama

The buildings are still there, but there aren't any people.

As usual with street scenes, there are any number of little playlets to excite the imagination. I'm particularly intrigued by the young lady near left bottom, who seems surprised and immensely pleased by something not immediately evident. Perhaps the man just behind her with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face has something to do with it.

Ecclesiastical

That building on the corner looks like a church but there is a diamond store on the first floor, and what is that contraption on the roof?

The History is still there

And glad to see that the buildings are still earning their keep.


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Bewitched

It's a wonder that Salem's infamous gaggle of witches didn't wind up entangled in all that wiring while trying to fly their brooms through town.

 
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