SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Open House: 1941

Open House: 1941

December 1941. "New York, New York. Demolition for slum clearance. Whole blocks of a slum area are torn down to make room for a housing project." Photo by Edwin Rosskam for the Office of War Information. View full size.

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

Cleaning bricks

The single most miserable job I ever had was due to one of my dad's money-saving schemes. They demolished an old house with the same kind of bricks on ours, so that was my dad's opportunity to expand the house into the carport. So we got a few pallets of these bricks, complete with mortar still on them. Our job (11-year-old me and my 10 year-old brother) to go through with a coal cold chisel and hammer, and clean the bricks. No eye protection, no gloves, no nothing. I think there are still a few pieces of old mortar floating around in my eyes 50 years later.

I always wince

When I hear the term "housing project", thinking of the hideous Cabrini-Green and Pruitt-Igoe constructions of the early ’40s and mid-’50s, which resembled Soviet Bloc housing in their ugliness and sterility. By the 1960s they had become the slums they'd replaced, filled with crime and despair and were ultimately demolished. I wonder if this soon to be built facility will experience the same fate?

Shack money

Those front doors are of quarter-sawn oak. Very heavy by themselves and with the missing glass even more so. These doors are so appreciated by the restoration crowd today that their retail prices can command hundreds of dollars. A door with its original glass intact can go for even more. No doubt, even in 1941, these doors meant extra money for the demo crew.

Open Doors

I can't help but imagine the type of glass that would have been part of the doors. Maybe plain, but I'm guessing either etched or leaded. Beautiful either way.

Used Bricks

The doors are beautiful works of craftsmanship no doubt. But look at that wallpaper amidst the rebar and wire mesh. And what about the men salvaging the bricks? Back-breaking work to bust up all those walls!

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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