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Dacotah: 1940

Dacotah: 1940

October 1940. "Grand Forks, North Dakota." 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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N.D. license plates

Should read "Land of the Long Shadow."


I see no traffic control signs, signals or lane markings, things we take for granted today. It's a wonder there weren't accidents every day.

It's all very different now

None of the buildings in this photo looking NW along North 3rd Street from 1st Avenue appear to be standing today. The Hotel Dacotah was completely destroyed by a fire that began around 11 PM on December 30, 1943. It was said to be the most spectacular blaze in Grand Forks since the original Hotel Dacotah burned on December 17, 1897. Fortunately, there was no loss of life or injuries as there had been in the previous Dacotah fire.


I get the feeling there was only one, very busy, sign maker in town.

Stayed at the Dacotah once, sometime around 1968 or '69, when we got weathered out of our home base. The only thing I remember is a big, old style, wooden telephone booth in the lobby.

Edit: Well, maybe it was the 'Kadoka' Hotel. But I definitely stayed someplace that night!

Happy Days

Did anyone actually dance at a Dine-Dance Cafe?

Law & Order

Always a car parked in the wrong direction. And where Deputy Fife to give that woman a ticket for jaywalking?

Wide whitewalls

Not too many that day in Grand Forks; I see only four cars sporting them out of all the assembled Detroit products. Convertibles apparently weren't a big seller in the pre-war Great Plains either.

That girl has a perfect



Mystery and Melancholy of a Street.


I'm beginning to recognize a picture by Vachon before I open the photo. He loved these high angle shots. Those are some great street lights, wonderful. There's a nice feel to this one, a bit more gritty, not as clean-looking as some of his others. Like the pedestrian, like a Philip Marlowe character, strolling to a meeting with someone nefarious. She looks competent.

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