Saturday, November 21, 2020

Random U.S.A. Pix!

I always enjoy vintage photos from around the USA. Sometimes half the fun is trying to figure out the location, if the photo is unlabeled.

Like this one! I had no idea where this river and bridge and bustling city was, but after some detective work, I figured out that it is the Monongahela River, with Pittsburgh in the background, and the Smithfield Street Bridge crossing the river. 

The hard part was finding a relatively contemporary view from the same vantage point (since I had no idea where the photographer was standing in the vintage photo). But I finally did find this one. You can still see a lot of the older buildings, though they are dwarfed by some new, modern towers!

This one was a "fail" on my part, I couldn't find anything to help solve the mystery of where this "Curiosity Shop" was located. Why are there rocks (?) on the roof of this log structure? There are Indian teepees next to that beautiful red automobile. Is this an old fort? Help!

This smoggy photo is from 1949 - it's a view of Chicago! Look at all those brick buildings, all those water towers. It's kind of a neat scene, though I couldn't figure out exactly where in the city this is. There is a water tower in the lower left that says "Besly", and there is North Besly Court in Chicago, but the area as seen on Google Maps is completely different from this scene. I would expect many MANY changes over the past 70 years, of course.

This last one was a mystery, and I didn't hold out much hope of solving it, but the "Grubstake Cafe" to our right helped. It's historic Pioneer Town (population: 420), in California! It's way out in Yucca Valley, in the high desert of San Bernardino. Wikipedia says: Actor Dick Curtis started up the town in 1946 as an 1880s themed live-in Old West living, breathing motion-picture set. The town was designed to provide a place for production companies to enjoy while also using their businesses and homes in movies. Hundreds of Westerns and early television shows were filmed in Pioneertown, including The Cisco Kid and Edgar Buchanan's Judge Roy Bean.

Although it has been damaged by recent fires, you can still visit Pioneertown today.

Here's a vintage photo of the Grubstake Cafe, which I found on THIS website, which has tons of photos of Pioneertown. Check it out!

I hope you have enjoyed today's Random Pix.


"Lou and Sue" said...

Uh, oh! All the pictures are missing except the last one...wake up Major, we need you, again!

Major Pepperidge said...

Oy NOT AGAIN! What the heck.

Major Pepperidge said...

Well, I tried uploading new versions of the jpegs again; I wonder if Google Photos had an outage or something? They've been so reliable for years, and now this two days in a row. I'm getting ready for this to happen tomorrow too!! The full-size photos seem to be loading really big too, which is not the worst problem in the world, but... WHY? I make them a very specific size, and when I click on them, they're so big I can't see the whole thing on my screen. ARGH!

K. Martinez said...

The pic of a section of Chicago is beautiful. Love all those old buildings and water tower. Pittsburgh with its hilly neighborhoods looks great too. There's something about that era of American cities that I love. Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

Major, it works fine for me now. I believe you fixed it. At least on my PC it works even clicking on the photos to enlarge. Thanks for fixing again.

TokyoMagic! said...

The photos are working fine for me, too. I can click on them to make them larger but otherwise, they just fill my screen perfectly.

While searching that second pic for the Abby Lee Miller Dance Studio, I noticed that red train car and giant wheel in the lower right corner of the photo. I was hoping the wheel was some sort of fun "flat ride," but it turns out that it's the "Lungs of a Blast Furnace" Still kind of fun, though.....if you are into blast furnaces:,-80.0029829,3a,75y,22.45h,96.75t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1shAy0FGn3PSA4Ud1cyOCD3A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

TokyoMagic! said...

I forgot to mention to those who were wondering about that row of palm trees, in the Major's post from yesterday....I believe I found them. They are still standing and are located just about a mile away from the park. I added a link to "Google Street View," in yesterdays comments.

JC Shannon said...

Major, what great randomness. The tipi photo is an example of a tar paper roof. We have scads of em in Montana. The rocks are to hold the paper down between the logs. Also, it gives you something to throw at the odd late night, doorbell ringing sasquatch. They are quite the hairy pranksters. Let's ask the two ladies the locale of this photo. "Pardon me ladies, but where are we?" "Why you silly man, you are at the Curiosity Shop." Oh well, I tried. Thanks Major.

Nanook said...

In the "Curiosity Shop" image, that maroon automobile appears to be a 1942-1945 model Chevrolet, Fleetline Aerosedan. Both the Fleetline Aerosedan & Fleetline Sportmaster were new for '42, and unapologetically marketed as "The finest Chevrolet of all time". (I'm uncertain how that 'smacks in the face' of the advertising for the current model year but, if you're gonna brag, you may as well go all the way-!)

Thanks, Major.

Andrew said...

I was very excited to open the blog and see Pittsburgh! I could ramble on about all of those buildings, but I know that wouldn't be interesting or useful. I will say, though, that if this picture is from the 1950s, it would have to be 1950, as No. 3 Mellon Bank Center isn't pictured, and it was completed in 1951.

I recognized the vantage point right away. This is an overlook that sits near the upper station of the Monongahela Incline, one of two old inclines that scales Mount Washington.

I've always loved the 1881 Smithfield St. Bridge; there're trolleys crossing it here. You can feel the deck bounce when you walk on it, too. Pittsburgh has 446 bridges, the most in the world (including Venice, apparently). And the majority of them are really old. Thanks, Major.

Nanook said...

@ Andrew-
I was gonna guess this image was from around that time, as with what resolution there is to work with, the shapes and colors of the automobiles, along with the trolleys seem to have that 1940's, or early 1950's vibe. I've only spent a small amount of time in Pittsburgh, proper, as I'm usually in the area to see Kennywood (not a bad thing, obviously) - but some day the city and I should become better friends. Maybe I should 'take Pittsburgh out to lunch - show it a good time, and all'. Wait... I think I have it all backwards-! You get the idea. Thanks.

K. Martinez said...

Andrew, you could ramble on about those buildings in Pittsburgh as well as Pittsburgh itself. I find Pittsburgh quite interesting. It's a wonderful town with lots of history. I had a friend from their who had a certain pride about his hometown of Pittsburgh. I can see why too. It's a special city.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, yeah, I kind of love that rust-belt view of Chicago, even though it would have been cool to be able to find a current-day view from the same vantage point. I just couldn’t figure it out!

K. Martinez, this might be a problem for the next few days, though I hope not. Because of the way Blogger has changed, it’s harder to fix this issue than it would have been a few months ago.

TokyoMagic!, I’m glad everything works as it should! “Abbey Lee Miller Dance Studio”? No idea what that is, or what it has to do with the second photo. Inside knowledge? I did see that thing, but had no idea it was the “lungs of a blast furnace”! I wonder what the elbow of a blast furnace looks like.

TokyoMagic!, I’ll go check that out as soon as I’m done responding to these comments!

Jonathan, rocks on top of tar paper? That’s one way to do a roof, I guess. What’s wrong with buffalo hide? That’s what I have, and it works great. Plus… no more pesky buffalo! I would be very happy if a Sasquatch rang my doorbell. I’d invite him in for a bowl of Cap’n Crunch. With crunchberries.

Nanook, that car certainly looks like it is from the early 1940s, it’s a beauty. I know I’ve said it before, but if I had millions of dollars, I’d rather own a couple of fully restored vintage cars than any high-powered “supercars”.

Andrew, I’m glad you liked seeing the photo of Pittsburgh! I wonder if old-time GDB reader “Nancy” ever tunes in anymore? She’s from Pittsburgh, but we haven’t heard from her for years. Thanks for the interesting info about the Mellon Bank Center, this slide was undated, so it’s cool to know that this has to be pre-1951. Thanks also for the info about the overlook. Very neat! 446 bridges, wow. It hardly seems possible, but I believe you!

Nanook, even though I lived in the Keystone State, I never made it to Pittsburgh - it was years before I could drive anywhere. I always wanted to go to Philadelphia too, for the history. Had I known about Kennywood at the time, I’m sure I’d have wanted to go there, too!

"Lou and Sue" said...

It's great to see downtown Chicago in one of these pictures!

Being from Chicago, I was taught that those water towers/tanks on top of the buildings were installed as a result of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire (which had destroyed over 17,000 buildings). If you're interested, I found a short article about these Chicago tanks:,w

This article even mentions one of the 5,000 gallon tanks that fell from one of the buildings...

When riding the train into work each day, from the suburbs, I'd see quite a few of those old tanks, but there were also a lot of buildings with just the tank support structures remaining - and the tanks themselves were gone.

Thanks, Major, for all the interesting side-trips, today, and thank you for getting up at all hours of the night to maintain GDB!

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I remember when I lived in Pennsylvania and I would say to people that I wanted to go to Philadelphia, and they almost always said, “You DON’T want to go to Philadelphia”! I guess it had a reputation as a dangerous town, back then anyway. Not sure if Pittsburgh had any sort of similar reputation.

Lou and Sue, that makes sense! Almost every building has its own water tower. Also, I’m not sure how else those multi-story buildings would have had any water pressure otherwise. Thanks for the link to the article, crazy about that 5,000 gallon tank falling from one of the buildings! Can you imagine what that must have been like? I wonder what the larger cylindrical structure is in the photo - looks like a storage tank of some kind, but possibly for something other than water. No idea!

"Lou and Sue" said...

I did a little walking around via Google Maps, looking for some of the water tanks/towers in Chicago. I found this interesting spot HERE where you could see an old water tank with the Sears Tower photo-bombing in the background (no true Chicagoan calls it the Willis Tower, btw) - a contrast between the past and present!

"Lou and Sue" said...

^ You may need to "scroll" to the left, a little, if you don't see the Sears Tower, when you first click on the link.

Anonymous said...