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Streets of Baltimore: 1906

Streets of Baltimore: 1906

Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1906. "The Continental Building." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Gayety Burlesque, Blaze Starr and the Power Plant

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The old Gayety Burlesque building mentioned below is still there and lives on as Larry Flynt's Hustler Club.

Blaze Starr's 2 O'Clock club is still there too but last I heard she sold out her share years ago.

The infamous "Block" during its heyday spanned at least three blocks of E Baltimore street and was the scene of a impromptu celebration march when the Orioles won the 1966 World Series. I and thousands of other marched up and down the Block until 2 in the morning.

Nowadays The Block truly is just a block within walking distance of City Hall.

In the background the four stacks of the power house are visible. Today it is an entertainment complex but when this piture was taken it supplied power to Baltimore's electric streetcars.

The demolished building on the right was probably a victim of the 1904 fire which gutted downtown Baltimore but it cleared ground for a new Baltimore.

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Tilt-shift photography

>> The photographer was a real pro at architectural photography. Not only is the exposure and composition near perfect but he has avoided the "perspective effect", i.e. convergence vertical lines, by being high enough that he could point his camera at the horizon and still cover the building from top to bottom.

The reason the sides of the building are parallel doesn't have anything to do with how high the camera was. The photographer used a view camera, which allows one to tilt the camera up and at the same time tilt the lens board and glass negative back to align with the building, thus keeping the perspective correct.

What a pro

The photographer was a real pro at architectural photography. Not only is the exposure and composition near perfect but he has avoided the "perspective effect", i.e. convergence vertical lines, by being high enough that he could point his camera at the horizon and still cover the building from top to bottom. Notice in the photo provided by Rusty, Still There, that the camera was tilted upward to get some of the upper portion of the building and the vertical lines have an unnatural converging effect.

Recent History

I love these pictures ... the ruins (not under construction, not being torn down) in the lower right corner are most likely what was left after the Great Baltimore Fire, which was only two years before this was taken. Here's a comment about the Continental Building from

"It was build in 1901 as the Continental Trust Building. Daniel H. Burnham & Co. were the architects. The building was at the hottest point of the 1904 fire and totally consumed. However, the steel frame survived, allowing the existing structure to be rebuilt."

A challenge for Shorpy photo detectives

What is visible across the street, reflected in the windows?

I have no idea what the right answer is, and this might be too tough, but have at it!

Here is the best detail I found.

Coming Soon

The pervasive United Cigar Store.

"The Block" - East Baltimore Street

The comment below about East Baltimore Street reminded me of traveling down to this area, popularly known as "The Block" while in the Army in the 60's, stationed at nearby Fort Holabird. Army commanders warned us to never go down to "The Block" alone as too many soldiers were mugged and rolled for their money by the local denizens and bar girls. The primo location was the beautiful "Gaiety" burlesque house, though long past its prime by then. Stripper Blaze Starr had a bar there as well. Thanks for reminding me of that.I understand the area was cleaned up and assume the Gaiety building is no more.

East Baltimore Street

East Baltimore Street and its immediate neighborhood including Fayette Street had become a "Sin City" by the early 1950's, where burlesque theatres, porno shops and raucous nightclubs had sprung up. To college-age boys from MD, PA and nearby DE back in those times, a run down to that neighborhood was a popular destination for revelry. That's all gone by now, I think.


The Continental has lost most of its fancy cornice at the roof. The small buildings to the east seem hardly changed. The building under construction in 1906 now looks to be under refurbishment.

Going Up

This photo really lights up the people who love to see how those early industrial age buildings were built from inside out. The marvel is what those men achieved with such rudimentary tools and machinery. Their pace was indeed slow (and dangerous) by our modern standards, but one look at that simplistic boom and pulley rig that they were using tells you all you need to know. The other bonus in this photo is the building being demolished at the bottom. Gives you a good view of an even older building and the way it was put together.

Not to say I didn't relish slowly roving foot by foot over the daily routine going on in the streets and the bay. Great photo to bring that era alive.

Calvert Street

Calvert Street with no cars -- I have dreams like this sometimes. I spent a couple of years as a messenger in Baltimore and always wondered what daily life looked like back then. Now I know: Less crackheads, more horses.

Still There

It's now known as One Calvert Plaza, and looks like it's in great shape still! I'm amazed that it held the title of tallest building for 10 years.

Continental Op

Dashiell Hammett worked in the Continental building in the 1920s, when he was an op of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. In this photo you can see the two large gilded birds presiding over the entrance, as well as smaller versions marking the second floor level in the large windows. These birds are indeed what dreams were made of--they are gilded falcons.

Still standing

This is very cool! I walk by this building and the dark little one behind it every day on my way to work. This is the intersection of Baltimore & Calvert Streets.


Who knew that cranes wore shoes and cats wore clothes in 1906?

The more things change...

It's remarkable that all the buildings shown on Baltimore Street and the first four complete buildings on the cross-street (Calvert) exist largely unaltered today.

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