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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SPANGLES: THE CONTINENTAL CIRCUS

Leafy Keene: 1905

Leafy Keene: 1905

Keene, New Hampshire, circa 1905. "West Street." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

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Ice Storm

Beautiful but I can imagine that this was a telephone linemans' nightmare after an ice storm or big snow storm.

St. James Episcopal Church

Looks like St. James' church has been transported to a different planet.

Arches: Made in the Shade

As another viewer pointed out, the stone arch at the entry of St. James Episcopal is seen peeking out from the foliage on the left. However, I wonder if the photographer was cleverly capturing another arch in this photographic composition: the arching, leafy canopy that grew up and over West Street.

Most of the trees forming this canopy appear to be American Elm (Ulmus americana). That high-arching canopy and the fan-shaped form of the branches are normally dead give-aways in identifying this once-prevalent species. Occasionally, individual hackberry or silver maple specimens mimic this fan-shaped form and are subject to misidentification; but that distinctive leafy arch over the length of the street, in my mind, belongs only to American Elm.

These wonderful shade trees once graced thousands of streets and avenues throughout the eastern United States. How sad it must have been for millions of Americans to have borne witness in the mid-20th century to American Elms' decline and near elimination by Dutch Elm disease. Only a few, small populations - and in some cases, only single specimens - of American Elms remain today.

Elms

Those are elm trees. Dutch elm disease made them disappear or we'd have those streets today.

+112

Not so leafy now, unfortunately. The building on the far left is St. James Episcopal, which appears to be about the only building left standing after a more than a century of urban renewal.

Infrastructure

Nowadays it costs millions of dollars per mile to install tracks for light rail. Back then they just went out and installed them down the middle of the dirt road. Mission accomplished.

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