Saturday, September 06, 2014

Then & Now, Around the USA

I always enjoy doing a little bit of sleuthing on Google Maps, trying to match of vintage views with Google's "Street Views". Hopefully you enjoy it too!

Let's start in Detroit, Michigan. Back in the 1950's, it was a vibrant city buoyed by the booming automobile industry. Those were the days. I like this shot looking south from Grand River Avenue down Washington Boulevard toward the Detroit Free Press building, along with a few nice signs for Cadillac and Firestone. 

Now Washington Boulevard has a tree-lined boulevard down the middle, which I would ordinarily approve of - except that it messes up my Googling! So this is about as good as I could do. The Free Press building is now abandoned. To our left, you can see St. Aloysius (also visible in the first photo)

Next we head for Columbia, California; a former boom-town from the 1850's (GOLD!) in Tuolemne County. That's near Yosemite National Park! This building (at the corner of Fulton and Main Street) was built by a man named Matthew Brady (not that Matthew Brady) in 1899. It now belongs to the State of California, and a series of concessionaires have leased the building. Notice the sign on the car encouraging folks to visit Mercer Caverns (in Calaveras County).

Google Maps was not terribly useful for this remote town (though I could find 360 degree panorama). So I went to Flickr and found this image that matched up nicely!

Most old slides are unlabeled, so part of the process involves looking for clues. In this case, the large "Foley's" building was the key. We're in Houston, Texas, looking west on Lamar Street near the corner of Main. Foley's was a chain of departments stores, headquartered in Houston. It fell on hard times in the 1980's, and ownership changed several times. Many Foley's stores were converted to Macy's, but in 2005, it was announced that the Houston store would close.

Google's Street View is a thing of mystery - just a few weeks ago I nabbed this screen grab looking up Lamar Street. There's the old Foley's to our left.

When I went back to double-check on the street name, I was startled to see that there is now a big hole in the ground where Foley's/Macy's used to be! Turns out it was actually demolished about a year ago. Goodbye, Foley's!


Nanook said...


Wonderful befores and nows. I especially enjoy the horse-drawn stagecoach in Columbia, CA.

Thanks, Major.

Chuck said...

Columbia is a favorite memory.

In 1975, we attempted a Spring Break camping trip to Yosemite and got snowed out on the first night. On the fly, my parents threw together a trip through Gold Country along CA Route 49 and we had a blast.

The Wells Fargo building in Columbia - used in at least one TV commercial as well as the movie "Pale Rider" - made enough of an impression that my mother later bought me a bank that was a 1/48 scale replica of the building. I believe I still have it.

Thanks for today's post!

K. Martinez said...

I have lots of memories of both Columbia and Mercer Caverns as a child and as an adult. I'm a big fan of the California Mother Lode area. As for photographic images, my favorite today is the vintage Detroit. It's a beauty. Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, the stagecoach picture is fairly recent… you can probably go to Columbia and take a ride today!

Chuck, that sounds like a fun trip! As a kid my class had California history classes, and I was always fascinated with the Gold Rush and little mining towns all over the state. I used to have a map (bought at Knott's Berry Farm) showing the locations of ghost towns, and MAN did I want to go see them all!

K. Martinez, I have a few more nice Detroit images from its heyday. I also have photos of locations that I just couldn't figure out, maybe I need to do a "mystery photo" post to see if any of the GDB readers can figure out where they are.

K. Martinez said...

Major - Glad to hear you have more Detroit. I love vintage images of cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

I enjoy a "mystery photo" challenge. Definitely throw a few our way. I'm sure one of us GDB readers could figure them out.

Anonymous said...

The change in Lamar street is startling. It looks much more modern now...but sterile and devoid of personality.

JG said...

Columbia was a family favorite in my childhood too. The airport was easy access for private planes, close to the old town and only about a forty minute flight for us.

My Dad would rent a plane at the airport near home and fly us up to Columbia for the day, have lunch, putter around the old town and fly home. Mom hated the small planes, she preferred the bigger models where you didn't have to sit right next to the door.