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Traffic-Stopper: 1941

"Michigan Avenue, Chicago, July 1941." And just a block ago, they were strangers. 35mm negative by John Vachon, who has a lens for the ladies. View full size.

"Michigan Avenue, Chicago, July 1941." And just a block ago, they were strangers. 35mm negative by John Vachon, who has a lens for the ladies. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Not Doc

The similarity is striking, but Doc never left western NC/eastern TN until "discovered" by Ralph Rinzler in 1960.


Oh my! I think jimchig has it nailed. I pulled up two windows of the photos to the same scale size and I think this is indeed Doc Watson being guided down the street as lulu states. RIP Doc, your performances will be missed.

[Below, left: Doc Watson in 1939 at age 16. - tterrace]

Guild for the Blind?

Though she is doing a very good job of not making it obvious, it appears the gentleman is being guided at the elbow by the woman. With The Catholic Guild for the Blind (now called Second Sense) about 1/2 mile from the location noted below, I think Mr. Adams may be correct that the man in the photo may be blind.

Re: Faux Purse

The young lady is carrying a train case. My mother had one exactly like it. It was dark blue "alligator" with a brown leather handle. It had a removable tray inside. With it was a plastic two-piece box for bar soap, a shoe horn, a button hook for shoes or a dress with small buttons and a comb. The exterior of the case deteriorated years ago and it was discarded. I don't know what happened to the soap box and comb, but I still have the shoe horn. I had the button hook until a few years ago when the plastic handle deteriorated and the metal hook rusted, so I threw it out. The plastic items were made of a grayish mother of pearl finish over a brown plastic. Very stylish. And as a kid, I used to like to open the latch to the case. When you would close it, it made a very secure sounding "pop".


If he was carrying a guitar case, I'd swear that was Doc Watson escorting the lovely lady.

Could he be blind?

I believe this man could be blind, as the eyes appear quite sunken or he is squinting. But why squint? The woman isn't.

Avon calling!

Perhaps she is an Avon lady. I'd buy something from her.

And him for that matter.

No traffic?

Gas rationing is a year away but there are only three cars visible. Doesn't that seem strange?

Three buildings in the photo still exist

On the far right edge of the Shorpy photo is a sliver of the Chicago Tribune tower.

Next to the Trib is the former Medinah Athletic Club (now the InterContinental Hotel).

545 N Michigan Ave has the RCA Victor sign in the Shorpy photo. It's a Nokia store in the current Google street view.

View Larger Map

Even today...

..that young lady would stop traffic.

Surviving buildings

The couple is indeed crossing Ontario Street, walking north. On the other side of the street, at 601 N. Michigan, is a four-story building that first housed the Lake Shore Trust & Savings Bank, then the First National Bank of Chicago, and now a Chase branch surrounded by a Guess clothing store. At the time of this photo, its classical features (rounded columns) were understated. Further down that side of the street (across Ohio), behind the "RCA Victor" sign, is the Jacques Building, 543-545 N. Michigan. It was built in 1929, has art deco features on its facade, and is topped by a Paris-style mansard roof. After recently housing a Nokia store, it is currently undergoing a mildly controversial renovation.

The classy looking car at left?

Although out of focus, it's a 1941 Buick.

The Lucky guy

and lovely woman seem to be walking northward, north of the river, given what appears to be a downward slope to the street from right to left---towards Chicago Avenue. If so, they’ve just crossed the overpass (marked by the billboards) of the street that took one eastward to the Chez Paree. Have walked the mile many times in the late 50s while going to school in Chicago, frequently in the company of Miss Mickey. (Mickey, I still adore you, wherever you are.) Christopher Lasch once observed that fond memories will be a source of sustenance in old age. Truer words have never been written or uttered. And oh, my warmest regards to the ubiquitous Checker A.

Just maybe

That's a cosmetic case in her left hand, needed for an overnite stop at the "Hotel Discreet" just up the street.

[Or it could be a camera. -Dave]

Strangely Familiar

Good Lord, I think it's Dairy Queen's big sister!

I saw you, John Vachon

Enlarge the picture and you'll notice her discreet but smiling gaze toward the photographer. And suddenly the man is more real to us. What a lovely girl.

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