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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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Penna Painless Dentists: 1909

Penna Painless Dentists: 1909

Circa 1909. "Madison Avenue, Toledo." An outpost of Penna. Painless Dentists, showing those native Ohio Tooth Torturers how it's done. View full size.

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New Arc Lights

I believe that a Shorpy image from 1910 can help solve part of the mystery of the "topless" light posts. Look closely and you can see that these identical posts have stunning new streetlights attached to them. I believe in 1909 these are the posts awaiting the final assembly of the arc lights. Another Shorpy photo shows the same area in 1909, and there are a few overhead arc lights, and no post top gas lights visible. Perhaps these arc light pole bases are indeed recycled gas light posts. They look old and scruffy compared to the new arc light portion. Toledo must have been quite the boom town in those days, and it is reflected in the money spent for the new arc lights.

Mystery poles

I'm going to guess that those had been topped off with gaslights prior to electrification.

Could the corner poles be gas lamp bases?

Note: This is speculation!

Could the mysterious corner poles be the bases of a previous gas street lighting system ?

The "button" could be the valve which the lamp lighter would open or close with a sort of key or wrench.

The era of the photo is about right to match the transition between gas street lamps and electric-arc street lamps.

Corner Poles

Can anyone tell me what the cast iron poles on the street corners are used for? There appears to be a button on the one in the lower left corner of the picture.


At least four buildings in a row on the right appear to be standing, including the Ohio Building with the Sullivenesque entrance, followed by the Gardner building with its horizontal banding. The next building with the distinctive series of bay windows is the Spitzer building, with the former Fifth Third Center building behind it.

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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