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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Naval Y.M.C.A.: 1917

Naval Y.M.C.A.: 1917

Norfolk, Virginia, circa 1917. "Naval Y.M.C.A." Everyone knows the words, right? 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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The Union Mission building

I'm so happy that it's not going to be torn down. There was talk of razing it when I lived in Hampton Roads.

Street light maintenance

How ever did they do routine maintenance on those huge suspended street lights over intersections. Before the advent of JLG articulating boom lifts and DOT rigs outfitted with boom baskets that is.

[By lowering them. - Dave]

This Building Lives

Like a lot of YMCA buildings, this one was built to last. It became the Union Mission a little over 30 years ago, and now is being redeveloped into apartments. It even has Facebook page.

At first glance -

I thought the window washer on the right was wearing a ballerina costume!

Retort Squared

Ah yes! I went right for "Y.M.C.A.", forgot that other song entirely. Too clever by half!


If those walls could talk!!!


There are TWO songs?


I read your caption, Dave, I was humming that song. HA! We're like Pavlov's dogs. Extremely well trained.

[Both songs? - Dave]

Calling all beat men

Most major cities at the turn of the century had a system of police call boxes. Norfolk apparently was no exception. The boxes contained a telephone to the local police station along with a telegraph mechanism which could be "pulled," sending the box number to the station by way of punches on a paper tape. Beat officers had to make an hourly "pull"; the number on the tape would show that they were pulling from the correct box and thus on their beat.

Detroit, like most cities, eliminated the call box system between 1960 and 1980 as portable radios took their place. I kept my old call box key as a good luck piece. The boxes were manufactured by the Gamewell Corporation, and the locks throughout the US were standard. This key could have opened that box.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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