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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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Lights Up: 1929

Lights Up: 1929

San Francisco circa 1929. "Dodge Brothers truck at City Hall." Where illumination seems to be the order of the day (or night). 5x7 glass negative. View full size.

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It's all in your perspective

The natty vested ladder climber is nowhere near the tower. To get to the tower from his truck, you'd have to cross the sidewalk, go over a low wall, across another walk, then past the woman on the park bench and finally into the shrubbery. It's a camera lens depth of field effect. It looks as though ladderman is actually going to inspect the ordinary streetlight.

[What he's really doing is promoting Dodge Brothers trucks. The Helin glass negatives are not documentary photography; they're publicity photos. - Dave]

That said, as someone who worked for a major electric utility for two decades, if city hall called us up and asked for the loan of three or more spare 115kV transmission line towers, double-circuited ones at that complete with pre-installed insulators, to just act as temporary spotlight stands, we'd have laughed our heads off. Then quoted a big price if they were insistent.

Those things would have to be assembled and taken down fairly painstakingly. Typically 70 or 80 feet tall, you don't just load 'em on a flatbed and truck 'em on over. They'd be bent up and dinged lying flat. Although, judging by the lack of safety standards they might have done just that given a long enough truck. Crazy. Amazing somebody didn't figure out a cheaper way to build temporary lighting platforms more appropriate to the task.

No change in 88 years

I like to see how things changed over the years but the bell string wire insulators of 1929 look just like the bell string insulators of today.

Another fine product

of the Dodge Light Truck Division.

Why we have OSHA

We have a guy with no "personal protective equipment" climbing a (metal) ladder (injury lawyers love ladder manufacturers) towards 12kV while the ladder is mounted on a bouncy truck with no stabilizers. Yikes!

[The ladder is wood. - Dave]

OK, that's a little better, but still...Yikes.


This is very odd - why would there be three enormous, ugly, high-tension electrical towers on the lawn of the City hall? Just to provide lighting of the building? Moreover they don't seem to be connected to anything, or even to each other!

[Temporary lighting for an event held in the City Hall plaza. -tterrace]

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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