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.
Vintage photos of:
My parents' first apartment in Chicago in the mid 1950s. My father was just out of architectural school and his midcentury modern tastes are evident. Full size.
Six of seven WPA posters by Louis B. Siegriest (1899-1989) promoting American Indian art at the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939. Available as Vintagraph fine-art prints, made from ultra high-resolution scans of the original serigraphs -- very detailed and quite beautiful. View full size | Shop the art.
December 1961. Maybe people who lived in the Hollywood Hills or in the pages of Sunset Magazine dwelt in high-concept Case Study homes, but regular young marrieds of this period were more likely to have furnished their abodes from the Early American section of the Montgomery Ward catalog. Here is a classic example of its kind, down to the ubiquitous braided rugs.
My nephew Jimmy, on the right, is visiting his cousin Bobby, and apparently I came along to record the event on this 127 Ektachrome. Jimmy is pulling the talk string on his Casper the Friendly Ghost, one of about a billion times he did it that year. "I'm co-o-o-o-ld." After 47 years that sound still echoes in my brain. Bobby's got himself a Mr. Machine, who didn't talk, but the TV commercial jingle still resonates. "Here he comes, here he comes, greatest toy you've ever seen, and his name is Mr. Machine!" I know that because at the age of 15 I was still watching cartoons on TV every day. In addition to the incredibly cool army truck, somebody has gotten a "Super Sonic Jetliner," whose wings were cleverly designed to deliberately detach. Someone else, presumably, has gotten the gift box of Kools up there on the end table. View full size.
I thought I'd get on the Frank Lloyd Wright bandwagon with this Kodachrome I took in December 1962 of the only federal government building Wright designed. It's the Post Office at the Marin County Civic Center, itself one of Wright's last projects. That's my brother adding a human interest angle. The neat half globe fell victim to vandalism long ago and was never replaced. I apologize for the lack of a Pontiac Bonneville parked provocatively in the foreground. View full size.
Aspen, Colorado, winter 1962-63. Boomerang Lodge, designed by owner Charlie Paterson, a Frank Lloyd Wright-trained architect (and ski instructor). This was a setup for a professional photo shoot. I shot it without the lights the pro used. Charlie is the guy with the black hair looking into the pool. View full size.
May 9, 1960. A landmark image in the history of modern architecture: Julius Shulman's nighttime shot of Ann Lightbody and Cynthia Murfee in Case Study House No. 22, the Stahl residence in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking Sunset Boulevard. Architect: Pierre Koenig. The photo, taken with a Swiss-made Sinar 4x5 view camera, is a double exposure: Seven minutes for the background, then a flash shot for the interior, the house lights having been replaced with flashbulbs. There's a fascinating account of the image at Taschen, where you can order a book on the Case Study houses. View full size | L.A. Mag article.