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Watching the World Go By: 1906

Watching the World Go By: 1906

"Park Avenue." In the resort community of Bay View, Michigan, circa 1906. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Re: screens and sidewalks

Screens on windows are still an unusual item in parts of Europe, so not surprising at all they weren't the norm in Michigan in 1906. Most photos from that era seem to be screen-free.

And the paved sidewalks vs. dirt roads? Well, people don't like walking in mud much but horses don't mind, so it made perfect sense at the time to pave sidewalks and leave the streets dirt.

Mainly, what I love is that everyone's out on their porches just enjoying the day. You could walk down the street and say howdy to dozens of people.

Get inside and lock your doors, this is 2010!

I grew up in a similar residential neighborhood in Connecticut in the 1940's and early 50's where we also had full size porches. It was the custom on long summer days, after supper, for virtually everyone to go outside and hang out there until dark or even later. Neighbors DID visit and the adults and kids all mingled, it was idyllic and familiar fun in a secure town where we all knew each other. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but things change. Just last week there an old, disabled man was mugged and robbed of his wallet by a passerby while sitting on his own front porch in mid afternoon. My brother told me that now someone is stealing all the outdoor furniture and accessories off of these porches almost every night. Nothing stays the same and I fear those days are gone forever. Luckily we can relive them in beautiful photos like this.

[Or you can move to a better neighborhood. - Dave]

All dressed up!

And no place to go! It's really hard to relate to people who put on formal attire just go sit on the porch. I guess back then that would not be formal attire.

Windows 6

I almost never get a good opportunity to spout off about how much I like black window sashes and muntins, but boy, I sure do like black window sashes and muntins like those on the house on the far left. I think that looks mighty spiffy.

Seeing how the well to do lived

When I came home from WW2 I started taking my family camping in this area, which is beautiful. We would drive by these and other very nice homes and one of the more interesting ones was the Loeb Estate on the south shore of Lake Charlevoix. It looked like some thing from Robin Hood's England. My children, all senior citizens now, still remember having my "Rabbit Ears" pancakes for breakfast.

Re: Pleasant place to sit

Funny, this immediately reminded me of the (beautiful) Chautauqua Institute that's on Chautauqua Lake in New York. Thanks for tying that together for me, Dave.

Aptly Named Locale

They didn't call it Bay View for naught: After taking in the view, drive around a little on the streets behind you and enjoy the cottage architecture.

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Oh, the upkeep

While the beauty of those Victorian homes is nearly beyond words, the idea of having to paint all that gingerbread by hand just causes me to shudder.

Not much has changed

Having been in Bayview many times, I can tell you that some of these cottages, and they were then and still are summer cottages, haven't changed at all. The streets are mostly paved now though. Very beautiful area.

For all we know

For all we know, these guys could be bored out of their minds. They might be sitting there wishing they had some advanced dentistry and DSL.

Pleasant place to sit

Certainly looks a pleasant place to sit, but there doesn't seem to be much passing by. One wonders also whether the neighbours actually speak to each other. Were neighbourhoods like that any friendlier places than similar ones today?

[This was, as noted in the caption, a resort community (affiliated with the Methodist Church, it was also among the original Chautauqua communities). These were mostly vacation cottages for rent. Note the signs advertising furnished rooms. - Dave]

Look Ma, no screens

Funny, no screens on the windows. Were they uncommon in 1906 or unnecessary in Bay View??

"A Place by Itself"

Bay View, in Petoskey, Michigan, was founded in 1875 as a summer resort and spiritual retreat for members of the United Methodist Church, although residents of other faiths have always been welcome. The grandparents and great-grandparents of an old friend of mine in California were among Bay View's original investors and summer residents, living in Detroit for most for the year, but always summering among their lifelong friends in Bay View. My friend's grandmother eventually retired to her house in Bay View, a couple of streets over from those seen here, and lived there year-round until her death in 1961. A brief history of Bay View can be found on the present-day Bay View Association web site.

A Summer Place

I plan on summering here, on Park Avenue in Bay View, 1906. I wonder if they offer timeshares?

Different values

Its interesting that the sidewalks are beautifully paved but the street is dirt. Today, so many neighborhoods, while having well paved streets, have no sidewalks at all making them merely collections of houses, rather than true neighborhoods.

Ignorance is bliss

No radio, television, air conditioning, computers. I wonder how these poor people could possibly be happy in those circumstances. What a beautiful scene. I would love to visit. Thanks to Shorpy I suspect I may have been born 100 years too late.


When looking at pictures like this one, I wish I was born there, in 1906. Everything seems so peaceful and uncomplicated. But I know life was much tougher for most people in those days.

Sign me up

I would love to live in any of these houses. Assuming they had electricity, central heating and indoor plumbing.

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