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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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The Illuminating Co.: 1900

The Illuminating Co.: 1900

Cleveland, Ohio, circa 1900. "Public Square -- Cuyahoga County Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument." 8x10 inch glass negative. View full size.

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About the pole

"TheGeezer" was wondering if it had an arc lamp on top.

The 1907 photo at shows only a small wind-vane at the top. In some other vintage photos I found it appears to have a flag. None showed arc lamps so my guess is it was an remarkably tall flag pole. Photos since the 1950s show the pole is gone.

Both gone

The adjacent structure is the Williamson Building seen before on Shorpy. It was imploded on a Sunday in 1982 with a large crowd on hand to see it brought down and to be engulfed in its dust cloud.

Last Full Measure of Devotion

Riding the St. Clair Avenue line to Nottingham School in the late '40s, I am sure I was conveyed on trolleys precisely like those depicted, if not the very same ones. Clearly, they were an capital investment that was fully amortized.

And during shorts season, the varnished straw seats embossed the backs of one's legs most fetchingly.


Is that monster pole on the corner supporting an arc lamp?

The Days Before Air Conditioning

There's not a single ugly window air conditioner in sight! Instead, the buildings have windows which (gasp!) actually open. Many canvas shade awnings are in use, including on upper floors.

In the 1970's an old-time office worker told me about working summers in a hot office: He said your paperwork would stick to your forearms because you'd always be damp with perspiration.

On the left is pair of open-bench "toast rack" trolley cars, possibly one powered and the other a non-powered trailer. (Can't be certain because of the way the scene is framed.) These were very popular with the riding public - people would take a ride in an open trolley just to cool off.

The open trolleys were not, however, favored by traction company management. They sat idle half the year. The response was the "convertible" trolleys with removeable window panels, one of which can be seen in front of the Illuminating Company building.

Businessmen had to wear hats in those days, so there are plenty of summertime-only straw "boater" hats in evidence. It was a different time.

Brush and his Arc Lamp

That huge pole in the left of the photo is probably part of the demonstration by Charles F. Brush on April 29, 1879, showing the advantages of his DC arc lamp.

History has come full circle seeing as how many of the major highway junctions of today are illuminated with similar discharge lamps atop super tall poles.

The Moonlight Towers of Detroit and Austin are also examples of this type of "towering" lighting.


Those erratically open, closed and nearly closed awnings on the face of the Illuminating Company's Building are a disgrace to Canvashood.

Interesting history

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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