William King House, Suffield Connecticut (2)

The William King House in Suffield, seen on February 17, 1938. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey collection.

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The house in 2015:

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Taken from a slightly different angle from the earlier photo in this post, the 1938 view here shows the house as it appeared when it was documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey.  Begun in 1933, the project was intended to provide work for unemployed photographers and architects during the Great Depression, in order to document some of the country’s historic properties.  These images and documents are now available online through the Library of Congress, and more photographs of the King House, along with detailed architectural drawings, can be found here.  The house hasn’t changed much in its exterior appearance in the past 77 years, and today it is used as a bed and breakfast, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stockbridge Street, Springfield Mass

Looking east on Stockbridge Street toward Main Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Image courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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Stockbridge Street in 2015:

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Like many other places in downtown Springfield, Stockbridge Street was once lined with three story brick commercial blocks, much like the ones seen in the 1930s view of the street.  This style appeared throughout the downtown area in the first half of the 19th century, when Springfield began growing into a major commercial and industrial center.  Early views of Court Square, Main Street, and other areas in downtown all feature plenty of examples of these buildings, but today only a few are left.  In the immediate downtown area, the last two are the Byers Block on Court Square, and the Guenther & Handel’s Block in this scene.

The Guenther & Handel’s Block was built in 1845, and as the 1930s photo shows, it was part of a row of similar buildings.  For many years, the ground floor was a grocery store and delicatessen, and in 1913 was sold to Emil Guenther and Richard Handel, who ran a grocery store under their names.  By the time the first photo was taken, both men had died, but the business was run by the family until 1972.  Today, all of the other mid-19th century buildings on the street are gone, and Guenther & Handel’s Block is wedged between an ornate early 20th century apartment building and a drab, nondescript late 20th century commercial building.

Venezian Monumental Works, Springfield Mass

The Venezian Monumental Works building on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is located right next to the architecturally similar building at 1579 State Street, which was probably photographed on the same day as this one.  However, while the former Frank’s Service building has long been shuttered, the Venezian Monumental Works is still in business.  The company is actually substantially older than even the first photo; it was established in 1882, when the Pine Point neighborhood was on the remote outskirts of the city.  Since then, the neighborhood has grown, which has presumably increased demand for headstones, and it also doesn’t hurt that they are located right next to St. Michael’s Cemetery.  Today, the building has doubled in size, but the original section is still visible on the left side.

Frank’s Service, Springfield Mass

An automobile service station on State Street in Springfield, around 1938-1939. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Preservation Trust.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is located in Springfield’s Pine Point neighborhood, a suburban section of the city that rapidly grew in population in the early 1900s.  At first, this growth was facilitated by the trolley line that ran through here, but later on it was automobiles that made this a practical place to live and commute from.  The establishment in the first photo, which appears to be called Frank’s Service, based on the sign above the door, would have been one of the many automobile-related businesses that opened to meet the demand.  I found this one particularly interesting, though, because my grandmother grew up in this neighborhood, and this place was about halfway between her house and where she worked in the late 1930s, at MassMutual.  She would’ve driven past here every day, and perhaps even stopped in to buy a Coca Cola.  According to the city assessor’s records, it was built in 1935, and although I don’t know what the building has been used for since the 1930s, it has clearly been vacant for a while.  The property has been owned by the City of Springfield since 2003, probably for nonpayment of taxes, so it had likely been abandoned long before that.

Looking North From The Empire State Building

The view looking north toward Central Park from the Empire State Building on September 11, 1933. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Gottscho-Schleisner Collection.

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The view in 2011:

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When the Empire State Building was completed in 1931, it stood far above any of its Midtown neighbors.  However, in the past 80 years the other buildings between the Empire State Building and Central Park have begun creeping upward.  The Empire State Building was still the tallest when the 2011 photo was taken, but the skyscrapers are noticeably taller.  The Rockefeller Center, which blocks out part of the view of Central Park in the 1933 photo, stands out in the first photo, but now the 70-story building seems to blend in with its surroundings.  Today, the Empire State Building is no longer the tallest in the city, or even in Midtown – it has since been displaced by 432 Park Avenue, with two even taller residential skyscrapers on West 57th Street in the works.

Looking South From the Empire State Building

The view looking south from the Empire State Building around 1931.  Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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The view in 2011:

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For all of the changes that have taken place in New York City over the past 80 years, these two photos really don’t look all that different.  The buildings in lower Manhattan have certainly become taller, but even many of the skyscrapers from the 1931 photo are still there.  In the center foreground, many of the buildings along Fifth Avenue are still there, including the Flatiron Building, which was old even when the first photo was taken.  The Statue of Liberty is still there on the right in the distance, although the far left side has one major change: the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island.  Both views give an idea of the massive scale of the Empire State Building; the first was taken around the time the building was completed, and it towered over everything else in Midtown – even the 21-story Flatiron Building looks diminutive when viewed from here.  When the second photo was taken in 2011, the Empire State Building was still the tallest in the city, although it had been surpassed by both World Trade Center towers from 1972 to 2001, and in 2013 it would again be surpassed by the new World Trade Center building, which is visible under construction in this 2011 view.