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Road Closed: 1958

Road Closed: 1958

Columbus, Georgia, circa 1958. "Highway detour." Note the Greyhound bus terminal that looks like someone's screened porch. Also: a big microwave relay tower. 4x5 acetate negative from the News Archive. View full size.


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1958 versus 2015

It makes me sad to see the vast difference between the two Columbus photos. In the original picture everything (except possibly the telephone tower) is at a pleasing, human scale showing a seemingly endless row of trees, grassy lawns, and comfortable appearing old houses. Virtually all of that is missing in the current view, and could be showing any faceless suburban intersection, with nothing but the tower and highway markers to indicate its true location.

Smudge Pots

At least the smudge pots actually worked, I can't tell you how many of the battery operated new ones ever work.

AT&T Switching Center

The AT&T switching center suffered a catastrophic failure in the early 1980's. The rear loading dock was built at ground level with a sunken ramp allowing for truck access. Flood waters filled the ramp and then the loading dock. Once inside the doors, the waters filled the basement to a depth of about four feet (if I remember correctly) The power plants failed and brought the office down.

The water covered the tops of the battery cells located on the lower power plant shelves. Bell Labs removed the fresh water that entered the cells with syringes (large ones). Power plants were restored (after cleaning) and continued service for quite a spell.

I was a supervisor in the power engineering group in Atlanta and visited the site with my manager.

1952 Chevy

I believe the car on the right is a 1952 Chevy. My father owned one for a few years in the late 1960's. I was then a few years too young to drive it.

Not visible in the photo, the '52 Chevy windshield was the old-fashioned divided type consisting of two flat glass plates with a vertical metal bar (muntin?) between them.
(The 1953 Chevy had a curved glass windshield. There may have been a transition in which the regular model had the flat windshield and the deluxe model had the curved one. Not sure if this would have been '52 or '53) )

The theory was that the bar dividing the windshield was narrower than the distance between a person's eyes, and therefore it should always be possible for at least one eye to "see around" it.

The windshield glass could be _economically_ replaced by any glass dealer that carried laminated safety glass. Contrast that to replacing a modern windshield, which costs an arm and a leg.

The worst changes

Looking at all these old urban images, it's sad that so many of the interesting old buildings are gone, but the worst change I think is the lack of trees. Imagine how cool it would be under the shade of all those trees, now only a few are left. It makes the streets that much hotter.

Thanks to KAP

Those smudge pots will soon disappear

from road construction sites, to be replaced within a few years by portable reflective devices and battery-powered flashers, to warn drivers and others of the hazards.

Before Flashing Barracades

Notice the small spheres that look like the cartoon image of a bomb that are placed around and on the dirt pile? I had forgotten about these. Before the advent of expensive flashing barracades they used to put these little jewels around. They had a wick that burned so they could be seen at night.

Looking North

This is the corner of 4th Avenue (now Veterans) and 12th Street, looking north. This was the construction that would widen 4th to four lanes. The tower in the background is on top of the local AT&T switching building. The old Howard bus terminal is still there, only now it's covered in a thick layer of artificial stucco and used as a church annex.

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