SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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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D.C. Tenement: 1935

D.C. Tenement: 1935

Summer 1935. "Washington, D.C., alley dwelling. The clutter of filth, debris and tin cans all have highly utilitarian purposes. Many of the houses are without gas, water, or electric connections." Note the Capitol dome at the top of the frame. Our second look at this abode. Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.

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Interesting to note that this lady has an icebox on her balcony.

Is it because she has replaced it with a modern gas or electric refrigerator inside, or is it so sweltering in her home that the blocks of ice (and stored food) will last longer with the icebox located outdoors?

Perfect Irony

My soon to be married cousin invited me to visit with her at her new house in Philadelphia so she wouldn't be alone before her husband would move in with her. We are both from Canada. The first thing she did is told me to hop in the car with her because she wanted to show me something about Philadelphia that I would never forget.

First we drove along a downtown street and we saw beautiful skyscrapers and men and women in business suits carrying briefcases. Then she turned the corner and said, "Look at this." Two blocks down all the buildings were dilapidated and the sidewalks and fences were in upheaval. It looked like a huge bomb had gone off and nothing had been repaired for ages. Everybody was poor and black and looked quite sad.

I mumbled, "What is this?" and without skipping a beat she said, "This, my friend, is an American ghetto." I looked back behind us and saw dilapidated buildings in the foreground and beautiful skyscrapers in the background where mostly white businessmen and women were walking. The contrast in that scene was ironic yet telling. This picture above captures the same mood and irony of that day with the white house dome in the background in contrast to the utter despair surrounding this woman of colour in the foreground.

Almost 80 years later and the problem depicted so perfectly in this photo continues to exist. This photo is both sad and perfect.

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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