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Old photos sleuths: where did I get these?

Photo sleuths: instead of figuring out the subject or date, I’m hoping one of you knows where I downloaded these photos, possibly 10 years ago. I’ve been searching for them online off and on for years, and my Google-fu is usually excellent, but I’m not having any luck with these.

The photos are semi-panoramic, from the 1950s or early ’60s, of Superior Street storefronts from Seventh Avenue West to Lake Avenue, upper and lower sides of the street.

I was stitching them together in my spare time at work and at some point in the equipment upgrades the files were lost, but in a recent office move I found these printouts of an early stage in the process.

Here’s a Google Photos gallery with a small selection of images.

Anyone know where I got them?

15 Comments

Matthijs

about 3 weeks ago

Some of these images are on the businesses page of the Garon family website. This Zien's Grill photo is an exact match and this Captain's Table photo is clearly from the same series. 

I don't know if this is the original source, but the main webpage provides a contact email, so you can always ask where they found them.

Mike Creger

about 3 weeks ago

Minnesota Reflections collection, possibly, through the UMD library.

Steph

about 3 weeks ago

I went through every "Duluth" photo in Minnesota Reflections yesterday.

lowedown

about 3 weeks ago

Steph, try refining your search on MN Relections to Superior Street after you search Duluth. They have a ton with addresses.

Matthijs

about 3 weeks ago

Do you know how many photos in total are in the series? If you search garon.us/images2/bus for files with 1963 in their name, you should be able to find at least 12 photos from the series (plus a few other things from 1963). The links in my first comment suggest that some of the photos from this series may not have the year in their file name, but it seems that most, if not all, are on this page.

Steph

about 3 weeks ago

They've got a series shot in 1963, but they're not the same ones. I'm looking for specifically this set, and I feel like I've been through MN Reflections up, down, and sideways, and you'd think I would have found at least one photo from the series if it was on that site.

Anyone recognize these exact photos, like Matthijs did?

Steph

about 3 weeks ago

Matthijs, if I don't get a concrete hit on this post today, I'm definitely going to contact Garon. Thanks for making that connection!

I'm not sure how many photos there are. I think there are 4 shots per block, so you could probably do the math, but I'm not 100% sure, and don't have the printouts in hand at the moment.

Gina Temple-Rhodes

about 3 weeks ago

This link matches for the corner of the old Lyceum building. 

This also matches one that you have of 500 W. Superior St. block on that photo stream page, even if not the small panoramas. 

I have actually thought about trying to stitch/paste these photos myself, to get a sense of the full downtown at that time of Urban Renewal demolitions. It must have been an odd time with many empty buildings as they awaited their fate.

Gina Temple-Rhodes

about 3 weeks ago

Here's another match for the right side of the Lyceum theater. 

The Saddle Shop and Zenith Sportswear are still open, but the unnamed storefront to the right has one of the ubiquitous CLOSED signs that can be seen on lots of buildings in that year/era. The same size/font... I wondered if they were given out by some sort of downtown authority at that time.

Steph

about 3 weeks ago

Yeah, that “Superior Street 1963” series definitely includes, if not all the same buildings, certainly a lot of them, but there’s also something special about the quality of the specific series I’ve been searching for… It’s the combination of the image quality and the loss of so much interesting architecture and a way of life that we can’t imagine today—it’s like a high noon noir thing the 1963 photos don’t have. Documentary pathos? The 1963 photos just feel flat. : )

Gina Temple-Rhodes

about 3 weeks ago

I disagree. Those 1963 photos are so full of detail. I really believe that they are the same photos, especially that first link above, of the western corner of the old Lyceum building. The shadow on the building is the same, even. Perhaps the quality just changed in the stitching/saving/uploading. There are a few specific photos in those small panoramas that I haven't seen, though. I just think the details match the ones I referenced. Perhaps all those 1963 photos were not uploaded to MN Reflections from their original home at the UMD Archives, and they have more there.

Gina Temple-Rhodes

about 3 weeks ago

Aha! Those Superior Street photos are somewhat oddly cataloged on Minnesota Reflections, but if you go to the main page and search for "Superior Street in 1963" you will find all 95 of the photos in that series, which includes the ones you are searching for. Check car placement, etc. 

I learned something; those pictures have irked me for a while, it's hard to find them in order. I can understand your desire to stitch them together! That era and the urban planning decisions that were made fascinates me.

Matthijs

about 3 weeks ago

Good find Gina! I started with Minnesota Reflections as well (as I always do for the mystery photos) and came up with nothing. This doesn’t seem to be exactly what Steph wants, which leads me to believe there might be a lack of clarity in what we are looking for. 

In this image I have uploaded to Imgur, you can see the same cropped section from three different images -- two men talking outside the Cafe Hotel Saratoga Bar.

The image on the left is from Steph’s Google file. 

The center image is from the Garon family photo collection.

The image on the right is from Minnesota Reflections. 

As you noted, Gina, all three images must come from the same film negative. Not only the position of the two people here, but the positions of all the people across the Minnesota Reflections series match with Steph’s photos, along with countless other details. 

The processing of image that came from this same negative, however, is just as clearly quite different. I used a darkroom in college and this is about the extent of my film expertise (and hopefully somebody with more knowledge can improve/correct my conclusions) and I can’t say if multiple sets of prints were made from the same negative or if the difference are a result of different scans of the same set of prints. 

I believe Steph is saying that she found this series online, but processed in manner of the images on the Garon family page, not like on the Minnesota Reflections page. 

While the images on the Garon family page appear to be from the same print or scan as Steph’s images, this image set is much less rich in detail than the Minnesota Reflections scans (look at the musical notes around the trumpet or the reflection of the man in the doorway, visible only in the far right image). This lack of detail seems to come from the contrast being much, much higher in Steph’s images, so high that all the detail in the doorway has become an undifferentiated black area in Steph’s image set. With even a basic photo editing program, you should be able to recreate this same high contrast effect on the Minnesota Reflections images. I was able to approximate the effect using the picture tools in Microsoft Word, the most basic of photo editors. 

That being said, you might want the photos as the artist created them. But at this point, it’s not clear if the photographer only took the picture and left the processing of the negatives to others, if the different images are simply the result of different scanner settings of a set of photographs that were processed by the artist, or if one set of images was actually processed by the artist and the other set by someone else. So I suppose those are some more mysteries around these mystery photos.

Steph

about 3 weeks ago

Ha! Amazing. I’ve been so involved with the image quality and cropping, that I never would have connected the “two sets.” I wonder how many times I’ve skipped past these.

It shouldn’t be difficult at all to create some Photoshop filters to get exactly what I’m looking for from these shots.

Thanks, everyone!

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