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Rockford: 1914

1914. "Street railway scene. Business district of Rockford, Illinois." View full size.

1914. "Street railway scene. Business district of Rockford, Illinois." View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

1914 Illinois license plate

#32117 visible on the front of the electric car. There are long slits between each digit to allow air flow into the radiator, a feature of Illinois license plates from 1912 thru 1918. Apparently not needed on this particular model!

So many of my Favorite Shorpy Things

Horseless carriages, trolleys, multi-globe streetlights, grumpy old folks, horse manure -- it doesn't get much better than this!

Slow Down!

The start of the 'Back Seat Driver' and the rest is history.

Ghost Sign

It looks like tall building with the Life Insurance Sign got expanded and a new facade, but you can still barely make out the Life Insurance sign, including the hand by the window:

Enjoying the Ride

I can't tell which, Ma or Pa, is enjoying it more.

Compared to the world of 1814

Just these two conveyances, the horseless carriage and trolley car, represent an advancement unknown to any other generation in human history. And I expect its two occupants accepted it as just another ordinary day.

Ennenga & Wagner

From the Rockford Register Star (2008): “Before big stores, there was only one place for wives and mothers seeking to outfit their husbands and sons — Ennenga & Wagner [E & W] Clothing House.”

Okay, don't say cheese

Ptolema grumbled -- he doesn't have permission to take my photograph! "Run him down!", she ordered Horace. Horace complied.

Photographer = 50 points!

From: Mike Schafer and Brian Landis, Rockford & Interurban Railway, Arcadia Publishing, 2015:

"The view in this photograph looks north on Main Street, two blocks south of State Street, around the time of World War I. Rockford & Interurban car No. 709 travels away from the photographer, who, it is presumed, will get out of the way of the approaching, newfangled automobile."

Several of my best friends

are familiar with Rockford, Illinois.


Rockford had a system of city streetcars, but also ran heavier interurban streetcars to adjacent cities. Car 709 is an interurban; more photos and stories can be found here. The vehicle with the nattily dressed couple on board is an earlier version of the Tesla, a battery powered car.

Look Out For The Cars

Although it was a message once seen at rail crossings, it might also be a fitting title for this photo.

I've long surmised that the warning sign "Look out for the cars" originated on interurban lines, but I've seen so much photographic evidence of its use at crossings for "heavy" rail that a resolute conclusion eludes me. However, I have seen a photo of a sign, "Look out for the Engine", which one would not expect to see on an interurban line, so I'll not yet abandon my original theory.

[In all these instances, "Cars" refers to railcars, trolleycars and streetcars, not automobiles. "Cars Stop Here," seen along streetcar lines, is an especial favorite here on Shorpy. - Dave]

Good Advice

"7th Floor ... Take Elevator"

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