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Taking a Shine: 1941

Taking a Shine: 1941

April 1941. "Shoeshine, 47th Street, Chicago's main Negro business street." 35mm negative by Edwin Rosskam for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.


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Native Son's neighborhood

Richard Wright's novel Native Son is set in this neighborhood.

From 1929 to 1932 Richard Wright lived nearby at 4831 South Vincennes.

The photo was taken at 300 East 47th Street. I located it from a companion photo taken from the opposite direction, showing this block is where the L crosses 47th.

One block east, at the beginning of the novel, Jack and Bigger see a movie in the Regal Theater at 47th & South Parkway (now Martin Luther King Boulevard).

Six blocks east and one block north of the Shorpy photo site, Bigger gets a job working for the Dalton family at 4605 South Drexel.

Two blocks west at 47th & Indiana is the novel's Ernie's Kitchen Shack, where Bigger takes Mary and Jan when they ask for an authentic place "where colored people eat".

Not just a zoot suit

... take a look at his reet pleat!


Brings back some great memories. I was 10 and my brother was 7 when we shined shoes in College Point NY. We made some great money for the times and kept us in bicycle parts and candy. What a great experience it was. We both grew up to be engineers with a bootblack background to keep our head on straight.

Could it be?

I don't mean to hog the "comments section" but can the man getting his shoes shined possibly be Whistler's Father? I always wondered what happened to him.


He's got the dirtiest job in town, bendin' low at the people's feet on the windy corner of a dirty street ...


One can't help but notice the very sharp and stylish zoot suit with wide-brimmed hat being worn by the black man walking toward the camera. He makes the perfect model for this fashion design with his demeanor of cool and confident.

Zoot suit !

Is that a zoot suit on the left ?

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