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Spring Street

July 20, 2008 | 10:28 am
Photograph by Munsey Studios

The Hotel Ramona was on the southwest corner of Spring and 3rd streets (305 1/2 S. Spring) on the Ramona Block. It apparently went out of business in 1912, when its furnishings were auctioned off. By 1917 it was replaced by a Beacon shoe store.

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Spring Street from Google maps' street view. Notice that the building on the northwest corner of Spring and 3rd is still there.

Dropcap_o_baker02 ne thing I enjoy about going through the old photos is that I never know what I'm going to find. Here's a historic picture of South Spring Street. I am assuming that it's a contact print from a glass negative because there is incredible detail that's only visible in a large scan.

For example, there's the family at left, on the sidewalk just about to walk out of the frame. And there's a fellow leaning against a carriage waiting for something or someone. Notice the sharp shadows, indicating that the photo was taken in the afternoon. 
Ramona_standard_sewing Adding to the clutter of the street are some large crates or boxes left by the curb. Notice that the back of the buggy advertises Standard Sewing Machines.

Here's a detail of the photo. Note that Spring takes an oblique angle at 1st Street. Obviously it hadn't been realigned yet. We can also see that the sidewalks are crowded and traffic is a little more chaotic than we might expect from the overall picture.
1901_0810_campbell Fortunately, almost every building has signage, so we can make out Campbell's Curio Store and Eaton Music Company, narrowing the date of the photo to about 1900. We also find signs for Mrs. Keiffer Employment, Reynolds Photo, Dr. Seaton the Chiropodist, and "Tub Baths and Massage."

Speaking of traffic, notice that we have electric streetcars (the last horse-drawn streetcars didn't disappear from the city until about 1903).

But in addition to the streetcars, we have wagons, buggies, coaches and bicycles. Suddenly Spring Street is starting to seem a bit busy.

Below left, a bicyclist and another bike leaned against the curb. In fact, there are several bicycles that have been left against the curb on both sides of the street. In this era, businesses made heavy use of bike messengers and they were often described as young hoodlums.

And we have pedestrians, crossing in the middle of the street, presumably after the northbound streetcar has passed. One thing that's missing is crosswalks. Notice the ghost of one shadowy bicyclist who was apparently in motion when the picture was taken. I would guess that our photographer used a fairly slow shutter speed, a tight aperture with the focus set for infinity.

There's no such thing as underground cables at this time, so we have utility poles strung with electrical wires.

What else is missing besides crosswalks? How about streetlights? I don't see any lighting except for this curious object outside what appears to be the Orpheum Theater at 235 S. Spring.
1900_0205_autos Here's what else is missing: Automobiles. "The day when the horse is to be a thing of the past on our streets is not yet in sight," The Times said on Feb. 5, 1900.

"The advance of the automobile, while not very rapid in this country, will be sure, but before it can come into general use the price will have to come down considerably, as at present these horseless carriages are practically out of the reach of people of moderate means."

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