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Street View: 1941

Street View: 1941

March 1941. "Housing in Norfolk, Virginia." Yet another installment in this exciting series. Acetate negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.


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Re: Hammerhead crane

The crane is almost completely hidden from streetview, but here are some articles with photos about the Navy wanting to get rid of it a few years ago. Its 350 ton lift capacity is much more than most others.

...and Bremerton's preserved one.

Found the pic spot

By triangulating back on this pic and the previous one using the hammerhead crane in the background, the furniture store, railroad tracks and big warehouse on the horizon, I think both pics were taken from the old 22nd street overpass in the Berkeley section of Norfolk. The overpass was built in the late 30s and is now closed and being demolished.

@BillyB "The other side of the street?"

No, though you're right that they're both South Norfolk. It appears to me, based on a number of factors, that almost a mile and a half separates the two.

This one is quintessentially true; it shows the Hammerhead Crane, at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, over in Portsmouth. Track Shacks shows a building that was in Norfolk until the early 1970s in the background; it was replaced by a building on it's site I still know as the "Sovran" building, though that was neither the original nor current, to my knowledge, name, simply an intermediate name reflecting it's large neon letters as a local headquarters for Sovran Bank; it's now sporting Bank of America.

From South Norfolk, one would be facing north, towards Norfolk (Track Shack) and is close to the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River, which is hidden in the distance in Track Shack. Many of the DISTANT houses may still exist, though I think not for these; the northern section of South Norfolk was mostly redeveloped in the early 1940s with early urban/suburban style housing, while a mile further west, it still looks like the distant houses in Track Shack.

This photo (Street View) is taken facing west and slightly north. It's been identified as being near 519 Liberty Street (the building with "SEE" on it is South Norfolk Furniture Company). The rough location is directly across from the modern industrial yard, but that's a bit in the distance, more near to the camera would be where the post office and a funeral home are located, in a generally und(er)developed area where a lot of "blight" was torn down, with little but light commercial or industrial to replace it. In this photo, the only remaining thing visible is the Hammerhead Crane, which can be seen on the horizon over the South Norfolk Furniture Company store's roof. And even it may not be long for this orb, as the Navy is talking about dismantling it. Designed to lift turrets off battleships, it can also lift elevators off aircraft carriers, and small ships (such as WW2 frigates) completely out of the water. It's large enough that a smaller crane is actually on top of the larger crane.

An image of the Hammerhead Crane in 1983:

Cocks Not Permitted

The South Norfolk homeowner of the property on the bottom right is in severe violation of current Norfolk chicken codes. Roosters are not permitted in residential neighborhoods. Also, I can't see where the coop is, but is must be located 12 ft from the owners property lines, which I trust it isn't. Tsk tsk.

Hammerhead crane

In the hazy distance behind the SEE building, you can see the Naval Shipyard's hammerhead crane, that was used for heavy lifts, such as engines, during fitout or overhaul. Installation of heavy components was done after launching, to free up the shipways, and to minimize the weight being launched.

We're not as far out of town as it looks.

Still there, but possibly no longer in use:

Every self respecting naval shipyard had a hammerhead crane like this.

Another view Hammerhead Crane

Another view of the Hammerhead Crane

Hammerhead Crane on the horizon

The Hammerhead Crane 110 on the horizon was built in 1940 and used mainly to lift and install and service the giant 16 inch gun turrets, is still present though no longer in use in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, on the edge of the Elizabeth River. The smaller crane on the top was called the "pig". The crane is located only about half a mile from the photo location. The crane on the horizon and the South Norfolk location of the furniture company place this near Liberty Street in the City of Chesapeake today.

Re: other side

Different front stairs. Different porch foundation.

Roofing material

Doesn’t look like asphalt shingle. Some kind of heavy tar paper?

Great composition, by the way, with the series of radiating diagonals. And anchored by the vigorously-striding woman that JennyPennifer points out.

Check out the rooster in the lower right. Bit of a monster, that one.


These look to be shacks by today's standards and were undoubtably tired by 1941. But the people living there had to have come from somewhere and likely thought these were a step up. That's a shuddering thought.

That Furniture Company

Hope this is still allowed. There's more on the furniture building here.

What could have been

The scene recreating the look of this neighborhood, which would have started the story a decade earlier, was unfortunately cut from the final version of WandaVision.

Your walk talks

The lady with the colorful hosiery (at least I think so) and jaunty lid is on a mission. Such confidence and determination in her stride, even in this still photo.

Also: I see the SEE on the building in the distance and raise you a S.E.E. on a tombstone. I don't remember where I took this picture.

Street view; tower perspective

Looks like he did a 180 after taking the previously posted "Track Shacks" photo, and snapped this one from the same high vantage point.

The other side of the street?

Are the porches just visible on the left the same ones from the Track Shacks picture? The photographer shot these from the opposite ends of the neighborhood?

SEE the "History of Lower Tidewater Virginia"

South Norfolk Furniture Company, located at 519 Liberty Street, according to:

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