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Elks Parade: 1916

"Elks parade in Baltimore, 1916." The message on those paddle fans: "Bromo-Seltzer." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

"Elks parade in Baltimore, 1916." The message on those paddle fans: "Bromo-Seltzer." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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The buildings that were

The large structure on the northwest corner of East Baltimore and Guilford Streets in the approximate center of the photo (with the striped first floor) was known as the Tower Building. Constructed in 1904 (following the Great Fire) with an enormous 18-story clock tower, it housed the Maryland Casualty Company, an important local insurance firm. There is a parking lot there now.

To the right, on the northeast corner, was the Franklin Building. Five stories high, it was also built in 1904, with unusual 15-pane over 1 windows. In 1983 it housed a Little Tavern Hamburger joint in the west half of the first floor.

To its right is a building with a beautiful arched window mostly hiding behind the Olympia sign. It was built in 1908 as a Horn & Horn restaurant. Horn & Horn was a Baltimore institution through the 20th century, open 24 hours. It was a Wendy's in 1983.

The Olympia Dining Room to the right of it was built in 1912 as a simpler version of its neighbor. Also with an arched window, but without the elaborate detailing. Both were designed by theatre architects.

The building containing the Educator Shoe company in the photo was built in 1905 and was a show bar in the 1980s. The remaining Baltimore red-light district (known as The Block) is extant in the block to the east.

It's too bad the buntings are obscuring the elaborate windows and brickwork of the McGraw Hotel/Pocket Billiards building in the photo. It was built in 1904 following the fire.

The building to the far right with the large brick quoins was constructed in 1868 by Baldwin and Pennington as the German Bank. It was completely altered and modernized in 1930 as the National Central Bank.

This street corner is significant as the location of the nation's first gas street light.

This row of buildings was demolished and the parcel is occupied by a parking structure constructed in 1998.

One little girl found the camera

An amazing photograph. I wonder what sort of gear you'd need to take this with today. Spot the little colleen who has found the photographer.

Good Call Baltimore Boy

The only building that seems to be still standing from 1916 is the white one on the left in the Google street view:

thats an amazing photo of

thats an amazing photo of baltimore

Baltimore Street

This view is looking west along Baltimore Street from Holliday Street.

Learn something new ....

Okay, I guess those are all 48 star flags - didn't know that .... but there's a 46-star flag above the Elk's-head banner on the top left corner - the second and fifth rows are indented!

[It's a 48-star flag. Which, as we noted below, came with the rows either lined up or staggered ("indented"). - Dave]

Useless factoid

The Elks were founded by Irish vaudevillians in NYC who needed a place to collect their mail and keep their stuff while on the road. No one wanted such transient Irish rogues around (sow biz folks, and Irish at that!), so they banded together to form this Protective Order. It then grew as an Irish club to include others besides vaudevillians, but still mostly first generation Irishman. What I'm saying is, these guys may look like Pee Wee Herman, but I wouldn't make fun of their clothes to their faces.

No Fat Boys

Except for a few paunchy stomachs on some older fellas, I don't think I can see one fat American.

What Street?

Dave, do you know what street in Balmer this is?

[I do not. - Dave]

Two Different Flags

Note that there are both 46-star and 48-star United States flags in the picture. Arizona and New Mexico had become the newest states only four years before this picture was taken.

You can tell by the grid versus offset rows patterns of stars.

[These would all be 48-star flags, which came in both grid and staggered flavors. - Dave]

George Herriman's convention cartoons

I'm reminded of George "Krazy Kat" Herriman's 1907 cartoons about a convention. The comics blog Stripper's Guide had a series of these up last year. Not Elks or Sons of the Desert in this case, but Shriners. Loadsa laffs.

Stop, my sides!

"Rubenesque, It looks like a Pee Wee Herman parade."

Funniest. Title/Comment. Ever.

That's Entertainment

While there are a great deal of people watching the parade, in the days before television, computers or the internet, the options for entertainment were more limited than we enjoy today. For 1916, watching a parade must have been a big deal.


It looks like a Pee Wee Herman parade.

Steady There

I am amazed at all the people watching this parade from balconies and open windows.

Don't get you antlers stuck in the tram wires!

A lot of the flags are hanging from the support cables for the overhead tram wires. I hope they turned the juice off first. Antlers and electricity probably don't mix.

Hat trick

I realize that's not a plumber's helper stuck to the top of the policeman's cap, but it sure looks like it.

Send in the clowns

All those people gathered just to watch a bunch of men walk down the street? At least the Shriners have funny cars and cool fezzes.


Definitely reminded me of "Sons of the Desert." Still waiting for Stan and Ollie to march by with a babe on each arm. A great photo reminder, thanks.

BPOE '16

Baltimore hosted the 1916 BPOE National Convention; here we see the parade of delegates who were in attendance.

Plop plop, fizz fizz

The Bromo-Seltzer Tower is a noted landmark of downtown Baltimore.

On an unrelated note: My goodness, what a lot of bunting there is!

Great Parade

Whoever thought a bunch of middle-aged guys in boaters, bow ties, and white gloves could draw such a crowd!

What i just learned!

Many moons ago, I knew a very old man who told me he had only seven teeth left and one of them he got when he joined the Elks Club. I never "got" the joke and this photo jogged my memory so instead of remaining ignorant, I looked up the Elks initiation ceremony a few minutes ago and found out what he meant. Very interesting. Thanks for the enlightenment.

I'm amazed...

At the number of people in the crowd, and the number of men marching. Today, the only parades that have this much interest tend to be the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and the Rose Bowl Parade.

Hat Knowledge

Those were the days when every man knew his hat size, and if he was a "long oval" or not.

And what a glorious riot of overhanging signs!

Sons of the Desert

"We are the Sons of the Desert
Having the time of our lives!
Three thousand strong,
Marching along,
Far from our sweethearts and wives
(God bless them)..."

Ceremonial song of the lodge that Stan and Ollie belonged to, whose "exhausted ruler" exhorted the members of Tent 13 to show 100% attendance at the Chicago Convention.

Big deal in Baltimore

Obviously, this was very popular event. A quick visit to the Elks website indicates that the fraternal organization is still going strong. Are there any Baltimore-based Shorpsters who know if this parade is still happening there?

The Educator Shoe

Even the sign was educational.

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