CATCHING A RIDE around town in Sacramento

Sacramento, the capitol of California, has many a tree lined shady street. It's actually a very nice town...until you deal with how it has spread out into ongoing traffic, freeways...the usua.

Click on either image to see them larger.

This card, mailed in 1922, shows the Hippodrome Theatre in the background which opened in 1918. Previously it had been called the Empress where vaudeville was the mainstay.
By late 1927 the theatre was showing her age,10-14 hrs per day of usage was hard on the old girl and there was new stuff coming out of Hollywood. The shows had gotten bigger and the stage needed reworking Also, there was no organ so all shows required an orchestra and attendance was down. In short, she was tired. There was the usual talk of closure and demolition but a new operator came on the scene - West Coast Theatres, a theatre chain based mainly in California.
In Spring 1928, West Coast Theatres came in and pumped new life into her to the tune of $150,000 (about the cost of the original Empress). They ripped out the side boxes to put in a grill for the pipes of the new $35,000 Wurlitzer (The name in theatre organs), repainted the three panel mural bracketing the proscenium with the Goddess of Spring and installed new flooring and rigging for the stage. They recovered every seat in the house in leather and remodeled the restrooms. It was still a vaudeville house with three shows a day (four on Sunday) and movies shown in between the vaudeville. The opening night performance was headlined by William Desmond, a nationally known star that usually played the Orpheum circuit and also included a film from Warner Brothers, "Tracked by the Police" starring no one less than that hottest of hot Hollywood properties - Rin Tin Tin!
The release of "The Jazz Singer", the opening of the Memorial Auditorium (1927), the Alhambra (1927) and the Fox Senator, changed the scene for entertainment so the Hip was changed from vaudeville to first run big pictures shortly after the major remodeling on September 2,1928. In 1932, the Skouras Brothers, Spyres, George and Charles took over the management of over 500 Fox-West Coast theaters. The Fox Film Company (Later 20th Century Fox) retained ownership but gave the three brothers management control. Included in this transaction were the Fox Senator (912 K Street), Fox Capitol (615 K Street), Alhambra Theatre and the Hippodrome.
THE END OF THE HIPPODROME - 1946    In the mid 1940's Fox West Cost Theatres led by Charles Skouras, had decided to do another remodeling of the Theatre. They had drawn up plans and were in the process of getting the necessary permits when the decision of when to close the Hippodrome was made for them. On September 14th, 1946 during the construction of a neighboring building, the sidewalk marquee crashed down killing at least one person. Fox West Coast closed the Hippodrome and began remodeling. (SOURCE: The Crest Theatre)
Today it is a movie theatre called the Crest Theatre and images and information about it can be found here.


CATCHING A RIDE around town in Chicago

Back in Chicago on State Street. Is it still the "busiest corner in the world" or has some other country have worse congestion of both human bodies and vehicles?

Click on either image to see it larger.

I'm especially fond of the Borg gang in the lower left. The "Men Without Faces Club" out for a stroll.


CATCHING A RIDE around town in New York City

Now we're talkin'! Times Square! Lots of signage, vehicles, and people to see. I believe that may be the William Morris Agency on the left. I have a friend who worked at the Los Angeles office. Oh my the stories she can tell.

Click on either image to see it larger.

Though I cannot read all of the handwriting on the back, I gather the woman sending it was in NYC to buy some fancy duds to sell back in California. She sounds quite excited with her purchases. Wouldn't you like to know what she sold for $16.00?

To see another vintage Times Square card` click on "Times Square" in the labels below.


CATCHING A RIDE around town in Chicago...again

Other than this being a sort of odd looking building, what I really noticed was how small the sidewalk was going by the front door. Now, this was a building used for things like national political conventions. It held 13,000 people. I think it's pretty obvious that the planner screwed up a bit. How many people stepped out the door and got hit by a car, trolley, or horse? Where are the statistics?

To read the history of this building, the Coliseum, and those that came before, click here. Jimi Hendrix and The Doors both played here. I'm guessing not when this shot was taken.

Click on image to see it larger.

And we're in luck. There is a typo on the back.

There's also some in-house handiwork on display. Dig the painted on flags! They look so natural! After all, it is the windy city.


CATCHING A RIDE around Westwood Village

I'm almost convinced this is fake. Westwood Village with light traffic? Nah, never happened. For those who don't know anything about Westwood just say that it's a college town; UCLA to be exact. Don't think pretty little leafy college town. Think hustle and bustle and a parking nightmare not far from the 405, aka the San Diego Freeway, that for a very long time after it was initially built didn't actually go to San Diego. But there was a little falafel stand in Westwood I would like to be at right now.

Click either image to see it larger.

If you click to see the image larger you'll find some in-house handy work putting in company signage. You'll find Standard Supreme, a pretty fancy gas station, on the left. There is also signage for Sears and Bank of America. I just love the way old cards have odd little handiwork they figured nobody would ever notice as not being actually in the photo.

I'd really like to know where the outdoor skating rink was.


CATCHING A RIDE around town in Chicago

Chicago, the windy city. So, is that why the bus on the right is leaning? I don't think so. Perhaps the people inside had just run to the right side to see something the bus driver was pointing out. Or it could just be the camber of the road. At least for a change we need not fear the photographer's life was in danger. They hopefully had their feet planted firmly on the really really green grass.

Click on either image to see it larger.

Be sure to read the blurb on the back. Seriously TMI! I feel like I'm at a party in Los Angeles and someone has just said, "I avoided the bumper to bumper getting here by taking Laurel Canyon to Mullholland to the 405 and then east on Sunset before going down Fairfax."


CATCHING A RIDE around town in Schenectady

Stuck in Schnectady with another street scene. This time we even have a bicyclist, who I'm hoping was never accused of doping. I'm saddened that that thought even enters my mind.

And again we have a photographer willing to risk life and limb in order to get their shot. Was there at least one kind soul yelling, "Get out of the middle of the street you dang fool! The trolley is coming right at you!"

Click on either image to see it larger.


CATCHING A RIDE around town in Schenectady

If you read the copy on the front of this card you'll see that I've still vaguely got my bridge theme going. I mean, really vague. Was the photographer standing on the R.R. Bridge? Was he or she concerned about an oncoming train as he or she yelled to the people in the street below, "Okay, everyone stop and smile. Well, you don't need to smile, but please stop moving!" Or was this the final shot this photographer every took?

Click on either image to see it larger.

I quite like the treatment of "Post Card" on the back. I also love the signage on the buildings.


CATCHING A RIDE around town in Detroit

I'm going to make things easy on myself for a little while. After posts about bridges, both rural and urban, I'm going to show you street scenes from long ago which feature some form of transportation. I'm not going to be digging deep to provide information about any of the cities or streets. We're just going to step back in time and look at what urban congestion looked like long ago.

Let's start off in Detroit at the "Church and Y. M. C. A. Buliding." Yes, you read that right. "Buliding" is how it is spelled on the front of this card. Who got fired over that mistake? The printer or the proofreader? How many were printed before someone said, "Ummmmm...excuse me. I know I've only got a 6th grade education, but I think the word buliding is wrong."

Click on image to see it larger.

Now, lest you believe that is the only typo, I can say with glee, "You're wrong!" Take a look at the back copy for what probably clinched the whole firing episode.

Click on image to see it larger.


BRIDGES: Connecting San Francisco to Marin and the East Bay

My final bridge post is of the Golden Gate Bridge connecting San Francisco to Marin County, and the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco to the East Bay/Oakland.

Click on either image to see them larger.

The small flat island, which is manmade, is Treasure Island. Originally built as the site for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, it was then to be turned into the terminal for Pan Am. By 1941 TI, as it was known by anyone who worked there, had been turned into a Navy base. In fact, it was from this base that my dad eventually retired from the Navy in a building that still stood from the Exposition. Just across the Bay Bridge in San Francisco at the Ferry Tower is where he had originally joined the Navy. The Bay Area is home no matter how far I may travel from it. 

My dad has memories of going to the Exposition and somewhere I have some old Viewmaster slides of it. I’ll have to dig them out and scan them for a future post. You can read about the Exposition here, here, and here.


BRIDGES: The Golden Gate Under Construction

Of all the bridges in the world the Golden Gate is the most special and beautiful to me. It's constantly changing and fascinating from all angles. I'll admit, when I'm crossing it I'm silently saying to myself, "Oh please don't let the big one hit now." I do not want my last moments on earth to be spent inside a car falling to the cold water below. Still, the view would be nice which is unfortunately what draws so many suicide victims.

The bridge is constantly being painted, a never ending job. Not a job I could fathom doing thanks to my fear of heights. Even more disconcerting would be to have been one of the men who built the bridge. Click here to see a vintage snapshot of a man named Geo. McLeod working on the bridge in 1936.
Construction began on January 5, 1933. The project cost more than $35 million. The Golden Gate Bridge construction project was carried out by the McClintic-Marshall Construction Co., a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel Corporation founded by Howard H. McClintic and Charles D. Marshall, both of Lehigh University.
Strauss remained head of the project, overseeing day-to-day construction and making some groundbreaking contributions. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, he placed a brick from his alma mater's demolished McMicken Hall in the south anchorage before the concrete was poured. He innovated the use of movable safety netting beneath the construction site, which saved the lives of many otherwise-unprotected steelworkers. Of eleven men killed from falls during construction, ten were killed (when the bridge was near completion) when the net failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen. Nineteen others who were saved by the net over the course of construction became proud members of the (informal) Half Way to Hell Club.
The project was finished by April 1937, $1.3 million under budget.
With the death of Jack Balestreri in April 2012, all workers involved in the original construction are now deceased. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

Click on image to see it larger.

Click on image to see it larger.

I have crossed beneath the bridge several times aboard ships; twice heading to Hawaii and twice returning. Even in the fog it's mysterious and beautiful. Imagine actually building it.


BRIDGES: Clark's Ferry Bridge Across the Susquehanna

Click on image to see it larger.

I know I’ve crossed this bridge many times when I was with my maternal grandparents. My grandfather would want to go “up country” to where he was born and raised. My ancestors go back hundreds of years in Perry County, Pennsylvania and over 100 in Dauphin County. So this bridge would have been one we crossed when heading to a church pot luck my grandfather was fond of. I still have relatives living on the other side of this bridge, but I fear I will never make another trip back to Pennsylvania. I do miss it.

This bridge was replaced in 1986. I've crossed it a few times.

Originally, from what I’m able to find, there was a ferry here established around 1788 by a man named Clark.

There was a bridge which preceded this bridge.
One of the oldest crossings over the Susquehanna River is at Clark's Ferry at the southern tip of Duncan Island in Reed Twp., Dauphin County. This location where the Juniata River empties into the Susquehanna River, east of Duncannon, was called  Queenashawakee" by the American Indians, according to "The History and Topography of Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Bedford, Adams, and Perry Counties" written by I. Daniel Rupp and published in 1846.
The site became a fording place on the Huntingdon and Pittsburgh paths for the earliest traders and settlers on their trek westward. The first ferry was established by Daniel Clark in 1788, passed onto his son, John Clark, and then to his son, Robert Clark. In 1808, the ferry became part of the stage coach line to Huntingdon.
In May 1818, a commission was organized to build a bridge across the Susquehanna. Bridge building in those days was an arduous task, and it was not until 1828-29 that the first permanent span was opened.
The bridge belonged to the commonwealth, which built a dam just south of the structure. The dam created a pool of water which was used as part of the state's early canal system. A mule towing-path was attached to the bridge. The covered bridge incurred the ravages of fire and flood but was repaired each time. Most of the bridge was destroyed by fire May 14, 1846, but it was rebuilt.
In 1857, the state sold the entire canal system to the Pennsylvania Railroad, which in 1867, transferred the canal system to a newly organized subsidiary, the Pennsylvania Canal Co.
After the abandonment of the canal system in the early part of the 20th century, the canal company sold the bridge to the Clarks Ferry Bridge Co. in 1915. (In some references Clarks is spelled Clark's.)
The president of the Clarks Ferry Bridge Co. was Harrisburg entrepreneur William Jennings, president of Commonwealth Trust Co. His longtime business associate, Christian W. Lynch, was vice president.
William Wills and P.F. Duncan were secretary and treasurer, respectively. Wills and Duncan were principals in Standard Novelty Co. in Duncannon, which was founded in 1904 and manufactured the famous Lightning Glider sled. The bridge was 2.088 feet long, divided into 10 spans, nine of which were 212 feet long and one 180 feet long. In 1888, it had the reputation of being the longest covered wooden bridge in the world.
Experts estimate that more than 1 million board feet of choice white pine lumber was used in the bridge. The lumber was cut from logs rafted down the river from the great white pine country along the West Branch of the Susquehanna.
The covered bridge served well in its time, but on Feb. 2, 1924, Jennings announced that it would be replaced. He said that span was barely wide enough to permit the crossing of one vehicle at a time.
(SOURCE: Harrisburg Patriot-News)

At one point the bridge shown above was a toll bridge. I live in an area where there are a lot of toll bridges. It’s sometimes fun to think about which route to take around the San Francisco Bay and not have to pay a toll. It’s always a good way to start an argument.

Click on image to see it larger.

With so many credit references on the back of this post card I'll just settle with it being ultimately a Curt Teich card since his logo appears on it.


BRIDGES: Donner Lake Bridge

This bridge is personal for me. I love the view of Donner Lake from this angle. My family owned land a few miles west of this bridge for almost 40 years. They built a cabin which we used all year long.

In the summer I loved driving along this road with the windows down, the warm summer mountain breeze flowing through the car. On this road you pass by a stone wall that was built by Chinese labor when they were constructing the Central Pacific Railroad. There's a rock that calls out to rock climbers for much of the year. You'll find cyclists climbing from the lake to the peak still high above where this shot was taken.

Click on either image to see it larger.

At some point a bus went off this road into the gully right before the bridge. That bus lay there for decades slowly rusting, its once vivid colors turning muted. There was also an old rusted hulk of a car. Understand that at one time this was the route across the Sierras from California to Nevada. The eventual Interstate 80 was built on the hillside to the left where you can see what was possibly the beginning of the construction.

And of course this is the lake made famous by its namesake, the Donner Party. If you don't know the history of the Donner family and their fellow travelers you can read about it here. And if you're going to be in the area be sure to visit the California State Park where you can walk a path through the area where the families lived during the dreadful winter.

At the eastern end of the lake is the bustling town of Gateway with Truckee nearby. Both towns have changed dramatically and look nothing like what I fell in love with in the mid-1960s. At that time neither town would have been called bustling. Many an evening was spent at a restaurant in Truckee flirting with the waiters who were at heart nothing more than ski bums. And many a late night I had to come back over the pass to the cabin in a snowstorm. Now I'm older and wiser.