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Beer Boulevard: 1938

Beer Boulevard: 1938

July 1938. "Main street (Franklin Avenue) in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania." Which you don't even have to cross if you're in the mood for a Duquesne. (If you're thirsty for an Iron City or Union Beer, you might have to dodge some traffic.) Photo by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Victoria Coupe

The Victoria Coupe facing away from us, on the right side of the photo, is a 1934 or 1935 Buick - probably a Series 60, Model 68.

Odd tops

What are the domes on top of the light poles?

I saw J&L close.

During 1981-84 I lived in Ambridge, directly across the river from J&L and witnessed it's final death throes. In 1981 the sky was yellow from the mill's output. By 1984 the sky was blue, J&L shuttered, and Aliquippa was becoming a ghost town. Ambridge is often seen on Shorpy, but I wish I had a photo of the row house we rented while in grad school. At one point in it's long history is was a house of ill repute and the entire interior had been painted pink. The closing of the mill was hard for everyone in the community.

Ah, Duquesne!

"Best beer in town!"

I mean, you can't lie on a billboard, right?

Ford country

L-R: 1931 model A Ford; 1937 V8 rear view; Ford signs and lamps. The only tractor available in 1938 was the English imported Fordson model N. This would change in 1939 with the introduction of the Ford 9N tractor featuring the Ferguson 3 point hitch system forever changing farming for the better.

J&L Mill

Both of my grandfathers worked in the J&L Aliquippa Works, and my father worked there part-time while in college. My father took me to the mill once during a visit to Aliquippa when I was a boy and we happened to be there during a shift change. I have a vivid memory of what seemed to be hundreds of men entering and leaving the mill at the same time. Later that night, while trying to fall asleep in a guest bed at my grandparents' house, I saw the sky glow orange every so often in the direction of the mill, due to the round-the-clock operation of the open blast furnace.


The year before this photo was taken, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. that the Wagner Act (formally the National Labor Relations Act) was constitutional. The case arose from the Aliquippa steel mill's termination of workers for unionizing. The decision was one of two in early spring 1937 that signaled President Roosevelt (and a switch by Justice Owen Roberts) had tipped the Court's balance toward generally upholding New Deal measures.

The picture shows the "Wye" area of Aliquippa, where three major streets came together near the entrance to the tunnel serving as the vehicular entrance to the J&L mill. The name of the roadway whose overpass design devastated the intersection and surrounding areas (with help from the mill's ultimate demise) is Constitution Boulevard.

Those were the days

When this photo was taken, Aliquippa was home to a Jones & Laughlin steel plant. It closed -- I think -- in the late 1970s. In the early 2000s, I used to ride the 16A Aliquippa bus into Pittsburgh. That's probably an early version of the 16A in the old photo.

There goes the neighborhood

This is a case of the entire neighborhood disappearing over time. The Joseph Building seen at the end of the street still exists as a shell on the Google Street View images, but the White Castle "clone" next to it and nearly every other structure in this picture is long gone, buried under a highway project.


Recently heard a local newscaster in Erie Pa say "Doo Qwes Nee"

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