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Serenity Then: 1908

Serenity Then: 1908

Circa 1908. "North Broadway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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1908 Mitchell Model G

The new car on the right, foreground is a 1908 Mitchell Model G. Wouldn't I love to have it now in that condition.

Dutch Elm disease

All of those trees lining the street are American Elm trees and they are all gone via Dutch Elm disease. Sad to see so many of these trees dead or dying, even today.

Still idyllic for a reason

Broadway, including North Broadway, was just as the name implies: the historical main north-south highway, continuous with the identically-named but more famous Manhattan street, once unified in a trail dating back to the Iroquois Confederation. It remained thus until the early automotive era, and naturally would have been a part of US Highway 9.

But the families in these grand houses wielded political heft, and the highway was re-routed, so North Broadway is practically a cul-de-sac today. It's too bad their connections could not stop the chestnut blight.

James Howard Kunstler details all of this and more in his classic book, The Geography of Nowhere. Kunstler lived in Saratoga Springs for a time, and it is a good microcosm of the America he depicts. I spent a good bit of time roaming Saratoga in the '90s, and saw Frederick Law Olmsted's masterfully designed gardens, as well as the pointless slapdash patches of lonely grass hastily thrown down by modern strip mall developers. Both are on display in this historic American town.

Still pretty nice

It's still a pretty nice place.

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"Green Cottage" No. 688

On our right is No. 688, North Broadway (looking North before First Street). Built 1876 in the Second Empire style, which is to say, a little of everything; High Victorian Eclecticism combined with French Renaissance Revival and a touch Italianate. The high mansard roof is notable. One of just two French Rennassance mansions in the whole city. The other is Batcheller Mansion on Circular Street. walked up this street, past this house, quite a few times back in the day. Incredible image.

An idyllic scene, indeed.

The car looks pretty neat.

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