Vintage Snapshots: Cars & Architecture–The Ultimate Collection

I’m building an album on Google Photos showcasing the best photographs I can find of intriguing examples of Victorian architecture with period cars up front.  This is a very specific genre.  I look for the best quality images–vivid color slides are preferred, but crisp black & white is good too.  And I’m focusing on urban scenes which have largely been wiped out by government-funded redevelopment projects, general neglect, and the need to modernize.

Somehow the combination of the buildings and the old cars doubles the interest factor.  So here is the best of my collection so far–36 examples of a quaint and lost America (enough to make three calendars!) and each photo I’m sure has many stories to tell . . .

I’m not going to write much about these pictures–I’m just want to put them out there, and let the commenters say what they think.  I decided to organize them by location, as if you were traveling from east to west across the country.   With a few notable exceptions, what is shown in the photographs no longer exists.  So I am grateful to the photographers who took pictures of these places–forever capturing these archaic and ephemeral scenes.

Whitehall Street, tip of lower Manhattan, New York City.


Park Avenue & 125th Street, Harlem, New York City. (Camilo Jose Vergara photograph).


Prudential Insurance Company, Newark NJ.


“The Money Palace”, Mercer & Broome Streets, Newark NJ. (Samuel Berg photograph).


Broome Street from Baldwin Street, Newark NJ. (Samuel Berg photograph). This was taken in 1960, but the cars are much older than that.


Winter scene–location unknown.


Independence Hall, Philadelphia PA.


Woodland Avenue, Philadelphia, PA. (David Wilson photograph).


Fraternal Order of Eagles, Wyoming Avenue, Scranton, PA. (Jack Falat photograph).


4007 S. State Street, Chicago IL.


Prairie Avenue & 18th Street, Chicago IL. (Miraculously, this mansion still stands).


Hotel, Chicago IL.


Earlier shot of the same hotel.


Shawneetown, IL.


New Orleans, LA.


New Orleans, LA.


LaMotte Row: Lawton & Channing Streets, St. Louis MO. (I can’t find these streets on Google Maps).


Moses Frailey Residence, 3650 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis MO.


Lincoln, NE.


Location unknown.


Bunker Hill Section, Los Angeles, CA.


Bunker Hill Section, Los Angeles CA.


Bradbury Mansion, Los Angeles CA.


Russian Hill, San Francisco CA. (Dave Glass photograph).


Chinatown, San Francisco CA. (Dave Glass photograph).


Western Addition, San Francisco CA.


San Francisco, CA.


I found a lot of good pictures of Portland, Oregon.  The photographer Minor White began photographing ornate Victorian warehouses on Front Street around 1940;  he later took many detailed pictures of two spectacular Portland mansions that were slated for demolition.  These photos were compiled into a book entitled Heritage Lost by Fred DeWolfe.

While I didn’t include any of White’s photos here, it is possible that someone else in Portland was inspired by White’s work and took very sharp color slide photos of other artistic 19th century commercial buildings that were about to meet the wrecking ball:

Portland, OR.


Portland, OR.


Portland, OR.


Ainsworth Block, Portland OR.


Spaulding Building, Portland OR.


Union Block, Portland OR.


Corbett Building, Portland OR.


Greenes Building, Portland OR.


Fox Theater demoltion, San Francisco CA.


Show’s over!

These photos remind me of the type of scenes that model railroaders attempt to reproduce in their miniature layouts.   Unfortunately the owners of the buildings (and yes, even the cars) didn’t truly appreciate what they had.  Out with the old, in with the new–that’s the American way.  It is staggering how much demolition has occurred in the last few decades.  What has replaced it is not up to the same artistic standard.  And memories are short–once something is gone, it is quickly forgotten.  If these places had not been recorded on film, it would be as if they never existed.

Genuine imitation Victorian, circa 2221 A.D.


However, I have a belief that after the convulsions of our present age are worked through, a new generation will look back on the classic designs of the past. With such marvels as nanotechnology, robotics, and gravity force manipulation, they will build great houses of unsurpassed artistic beauty and richness of detail, sort of like what gamers are doing now with The Sims and Minecraft.

2256 Oldsmobile.


And maybe they will do the same thing with cars.  Although they won’t use anything as primitive as wheels.  As Dr. Emmett Brown exclaimed in the closing scene of Back To The Future, “Where we’re going, we don’t need . . . roads!