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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 • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

United Mainliner: 1964

United Mainliner: 1964

Washington National Airport, July or August 1964. The Douglas DC-6 was arguably the last word in piston-engined airline travel. Built in 1948, this airframe's days in first-line service were numbered when this late afternoon image was taken. Immaculately maintained, the ground crew probably washed the exhaust soot from the engine nacelles every night. The United Airlines livery was both elegant and functional: the underside was left in bare aluminum as a concession to the grit that would inevitably score the surface. Scanned slide from the Frank Burch photo collection. View full size.

Caution: Potholes!

Caution:  Potholes!

Northern Virginia, 1952. This is one of over a dozen photos ostensibly taken for the purpose of illustrating erosion patterns. I offer this one only because of the 1950/51 Studebaker in the background. The site is probably a limestone quarry. Image from the Frank Burch photo collection. View full size.

Streets of San Francisco, Cont'd

Streets of San Francisco, Cont'd

Chinatown, San Francisco, August 1957. Taken on the same visit as the drive down the "Vertigo" location. Kodachrome slide, Contax camera. View full size.

SS Klondike: 1961

SS Klondike: 1961

Stored in Whitehorse, Yukon, the SS Klondike in 1961 awaited an uncertain fate. Unlike a couple of her sisters in the background, the Klondike was eventually preserved as an historic landmark. Sternwheel paddle boats were a fixture in Alaska and Canada's Yukon territories during the first half of the 20th century. Shallow drafts of 3-4 feet overcame the problem of undrenched riverbeds, aside from the fact that the northern rivers were ice-free only five months out of the year. Their boilers burned logs; fuel supply was not a problem. Scanned Ektachrome slide from the Frank Burch photo collection. View full size.

SS Nenana: 1961

SS Nenana: 1961

Alaska/Yukon sternwheelers enjoyed their last hurrah during World War II, when they were pressed into service carrying freight in support of the Alcan Highway construction project. Ironically, however, the highway led directly to the demise of sternwheeler revenue opportunities. This vaguely dramatic photo details the Nenana's pilot house. She endured a decade of neglect, including occupancy by squatters, until restored for display in Fairbanks. Scanned negative from the Frank Burch photo collection. View full size.

Streets of San Francisco: 1957

Streets of San Francisco: 1957

        UPDATE: By amazing coincidence, the photographer here (the late father of Shorpy member rsyung) seems to have stumbled upon a shooting location for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Vertigo," with the same cars lined up along the curb as in a scene from the movie. Scroll down to the comments for details. -- Dave

Taken by my dad in August, 1957. Bay Bridge in the background. I'm sure someone with an intimate knowledge of "The City" and / or Google maps will figure out which street this is. Kodachrome slide, Contax camera. View full size.

C-130 at the South Pole: 1974

C-130 at the South Pole: 1974

December 1974. This LC-130R Hercules has just arrived at the geographic south pole, flying in from McMurdo Station. This is the same aircraft that appeared in part in this earlier post. Operated by the "Puckered Penguins" navy squadron VXE-6, this is one of several arctic-equipped Herkies employed largely for the benefit of the National Science Foundation until VXE-6 was disbanded in 1999. In later years, this particular airframe sported an image of Walter Lantz's "Chilly Willy" cartoon character on its nose. Image from a Kodachrome slide, Frank Burch collection. View full size.

 
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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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