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South Broad: 1905

South Broad: 1905

Philadelphia circa 1905. "South Broad Street from City Hall." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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I'm not 100% certain of Philadelphia but most, if not all, trolley companies were required by their franchises to maintain the paving between their rails and for some distance outside them. That may explain the difference between the new paving and the cobbles between the rails. It left what looks like a hefty bump for any wagon or carriage crossing the tracks.

Is Broad Street Paved?

Here it is, three years before the start of Model T production and not an automobile in sight. The trolley tracks are clearly paved with brick in between the rails, but the rest of the roadway? It's not clear what the road surface is, unlike the 1904 photo posted earlier of East Market Street, where it's clearly blocks.

Ah ... here's the answer in the page:

In 1894, Broad was the first street in Philadelphia surfaced with asphalt—the latest in paving technology at the time—for primitive automobiles. This work... cost the city half a million dollars. The blocks of stone (Belgian blocks) that had previously lined Broad Street were used to replace the cobbles in nearby small streets.

Short clothes for boys and girls

Re the boy in knickers: This kind of distinction applied to both boys and girls. Little girls' dresses typically ended below the knee, and older girls' dresses were usually just long enough to reach the tops of their boots. Girls didn't "let down" their skirts to ankle or street length until they were old enough to be considered young women.

At the time this picture was taken, it was still common to put really little boys (under 3 years or so) in dresses. It can be hard to tell little boys from little girls in photos from this time - you have to look at a lot of pictures and become familiar with the fashions of the day to distinguish a boy's dress from a girl's dress.

Fashion Comes Back Around

In these pictures of yesteryear, boys couldn't wait to get out of short pants. Today boys, and men, can be seen in short pants just about every where.

Land Title Building(s)

The shorter buildings on the right with all the interesting signage are gone, but just beyond them the Land Title Building (actually two structures joined at the base and built a few years apart), some of the earliest skyscrapers, are still there today and looking every bit as impressive as they do here. Amazing to think that over 110 years ago a 22-story structure like that was built. Meanwhile in my city, people argue that 8 or 10 floors is too tall for us.


Below is the same view from October of 2013.

I'll Take the Soup

Apparently one of the specialties of Kugler's Restaurant was "Catfish & Waffles", served in a cream sauce"

Pure Unadulterated Milk

Pure Unadulterated Milk, delivered every morning and afternoon in glass cans, air tight - cream on top. The Lester Milk Co., 105 South Broad St. (Philadelphia Times, June 1, 1879)

The Lester Milk Co., Phoenixville, sends 1,400 quarts per day to Philadelphia (The York Daily, March 24, 1880)

Huge Dairy Merger Plans Completed. Final arrangements for the consolidation of 18 dairies and ice cream companies…into one centralized organization known as the Philadelphia Dairy Products Company was announced. Details of the merger include grouping into one unit companies including Kelly-Lester Milk Co…. (Reading Times, November 3, 1928)

All that brilliant architecture

But what I notice first are those two boys standing in the middle of the street, staring right at the camera.

Still in short pants

The two lads standing in the street facing the camera (right foreground) illustrate what was until at least the 1930s the critical transition from child to adult -- long pants as opposed to knickerbockers. Knickers perhaps became popular for pre-pubescent boys as a result of the success of Frances Hodgson Burnett novel "Little Lord Fauntleroy."

Most mothers mercifully avoided the rest of the costume, (velvet jacket, wide-brim hat, ruffled shirt) at least for everyday wear, but even the lower classes seem to have favored keeping boys in knee pants almost constantly.

Manly chaps like Penrod and Sam may have yearned for long pants, but their putative inappropriateness for boys under 14 or so is reflected in the song "Ya Got Trouble" from "The Music Man" -- "The minute your son leaves the house / Does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee?" the next steps on the road to perdition being Bevo, Cubebs, and pool!

Apparently, working in t' mill 60 hours a week couldn't hurt little Algernon, but wearing pants that met the top of his shoes surely would.

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