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Over Omaha: 1938

Over Omaha: 1938

November 1938. "Omaha, Nebraska." A bird's-eye view of, among other attractions, Tri-City Barber College. Photo by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Graybar Electrical Supply

... has a fascinating story. "Gray" is Elisha Gray, the (alleged) inventor of the telephone, whose patent was scooped by Alexander Graham Bell. The company was spun off from Western Electric, the wholly-owned supplier to the Bell System.


Hey, Dave, you're right! It appears that the photos I googled, in an attempt to make sure I knew what I was talking about, illustrate 1940 models. Now, as a kid I'd never have been fooled in that way. Thanks for engaging on this one!!!

Found one!

The Ford Bros. building (in the upper right corner of the photo) still stands at the corner of Dodge & 11th streets.

Strange place for a period

The A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. has a period under the c in McDonald. I'm what is considered an old timer, and I had never seen this before today.

[Those glyphs (dots, triangles, dashes, etc.) under superscript letters are diacritics. - Dave]

A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co.

An immigrant from Scotland, born in 1834, A. Y. McDonald opened his plumbing shop in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1856, making his company nowadays, at 163 years old, one of the country’s 100 oldest family businesses. It expanded to Omaha in 1915. The firm’s president is still a McDonald, great-great-grandson of the founder. A.Y. himself was in the Civil War, shot twice, and he was shot a third time, later in life, in a home invasion. He died in 1891 at the age of 57.

What a fascinating photo that rewards multiple and extended viewings. It all seems to be gone, as EADG points out, but if you google 1150 Douglas Street, outside the photo to the right, to the east of the Omaha Stove Repair Works (1206-8 Douglas), you can streetview a few old survivors, notably a three-story red-brick building marked Specht.

Graybar Electrical Supply

Continues to thrive all over North America, and is still employee-owned.

Much Has Changed Indeed

I'm glad EADG found the barber school at 1302 Douglas Street, because I found the Arcade Hotel at 1215 Douglas (reference: Since hlupak604 identified the Ford Bros. Van & Storage building still standing at Dodge and N 11th Streets that means this photo is looking north towards what is now Interstate Highway 480. The railroad tracks in this 1938 photo, almost every building, and the tall building from which this photo was taken (and is casting the shadow) are gone.

It took me awhile to find one

Doesn't look like they had too many trees in the area back then

An early Ford spotted

One of the billboards advertises the film "Submarine Patrol," which was directed by John Ford for 20th Century Fox, the last Ford-directed film before a run of seven box-office or critical successes in a three-year period that would make him a legend.

Identity Theft?

It is interesting to note that this 1938 scene includes a billboard touting the presumably-yet-to-be-released 1939 Chevrolet by means of an illustration that bears very little resemblance to the actual design. Could this have been an early version of fake news?

[As most everyone knows, Detroit’s model year begins in the fall or summer of the previous calendar year. And that is a faithful rendering of the 1939 Chevrolet. -Dave]

The '39 Chevy had a V-section grille, receding at the top, with a center strip. The illustration suggests a more LaSalle-like vertical curved prow -- reason to believe that the illustrators were working from a prototype or sketch of same.

[You're mistaken. And the photo is from November 1938. - Dave]

Yes please

Sunshine Biscuits! Yay! I'll have a case of Hydrox cookies. And a visit to the Uptown Cafe too, after parking under cover for only 20 cents. Just sounds like a great time. What a fabulous picture. I scanned it for many minutes, as big as I could get it. This is why I love Shorpy: unvarnished but soulful glimpses of long-ago America.

Much Has Changed

My 1940 Omaha City Directory places the barber school at 1302 Douglas Street. Virtually everything in this photo is now gone.

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