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Tuesday, June 18, 2013


1938: Small businesses thrive along downtown's Sixth Avenue near Broadway.     Image SD History Center
1938: Harlem Neighborhood, New York City: Street car and well dressed pedestrians.
EVOCATIVE IMAGES--Vintage photographs, especially those of urban settings, are fascinating because they reveal layers of the past from fashion to architecture.  The two retro images here were taken in 1938.  One was snapped in New York City at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 125th Street and the other in San Diego near Sixth Avenue and Broadway.

The modern Manhattan image of the same intersection 75-years later shows a utilitarian transformation.  The major change being a large New York State office high rise went up a decade ago in place of vintage shops along 125th Street (now called Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Avenue). In 1938, the Harlem neighborhood was teeming with activity and small businesses—note the fashion statements and the vintage cars and business signage.  In 2013, the Google map image shows an equally busy intersection but with fewer mom and pop businesses.

In 1938, San Diego’s downtown was perhaps the most vibrant it has ever been.   Note the large collection of small businesses along Sixth Avenue, but in 2013 the years have not been kind along this stretch of downtown. 

2013: Harlem neighborhood with backpacks and buses.

2013: San Diego's Sixth Avenue: faded glory

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