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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Car Shack: 1939

The Car Shack: 1939

July 1939. "Activity around station master's shack. Streetcar terminal, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma." 35mm nitrate negative by Russell Lee. View full size.

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You mean Bricktown ...

which is the "entertainment district" created out of a derelict warehouse district just east of downtown OKC. But the streetcar terminal which formed the subject of this series of Russell Lee's photographs from 1939 was located in downtown proper, on the north side of Grand Avenue (now Sheridan), between Harvey and Hudson. The site of the terminal is now occupied by the tallest building in Oklahoma, the 850-foot high Devon Energy Tower.

Writing on the wall

The ad on the building was hand painted, a lost art. Now we have vinyl decals that wrap around a honking blemish on the side of the highway.

These old ads required the use of special lead based long-lasting paint. One of the requirements of the paint was that the surface needed to be hot for the paint to cure. That meant the sign painter was busy at work in the afternoon when the sun was burning his back. Lead poisoning was common in sign painters, as they sometimes got a drop or two on their bare skin. No time to clean it off, just wipe off most of it and get back to work.

[Actually it's a billboard, made of bills (printed sheets of paper) pasted to the board. You can see the seams where the sheets don't align. - Dave]

White water

That's a "White" water cooler. You can see the other one in this more famous Russell Lee photo, which was probably taken on the same day.

Watering Stop

Looks like the two men and the boy are partaking of free water. When you're finished with your drink just drop your cup on the ground. Bare feet were common among children of the Depression. The postwar boom and the widespread sales of sneakers had yet to occur.


Was probably in what is now called the Brickyard near downtown OKC.

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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