Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vintage Postcards of Lorain's Two Bridges

Vintage postcard postmarked 1947 (Courtesy of Ebay)
Vintage postcard postmarked 1950 (Courtesy of Ebay)
Vintage postcard (Courtesy of Ebay)
Here's some old time postcards of Lorain's two bridges across the Black River, both dedicated on the same day in September 1939. The Charles Berry Bascule Bridge is shown above on three vintage linen postcards, and below is the High Level Bridge (now known as the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge).

Vintage postcard postmarked 1950 (Courtesy of Ebay)

One of the reasons that I thought that the High Level Bridge was constructed later than 1939 was the fact that for years I had only seen this color postcard view of it (below). 

It's a shame that postcards are pretty much defunct anymore as a way for a city to publicize its civic improvements and beauty spots. 

I'm one of a rapidly dwindling group that still sends out postcards (when I can find them) while I'm on vacation, rather than posting my shots on Facebook where they may or not even be viewed by my "friends," but will certainly be forgotten.

Monday, July 28, 2014

60th Anniversary of Prospect Point Collapse at Niagara Falls

As it was covered in the Lorain Journal on July 29, 1954
Courtesy rightinniagara.blogspot.com
I almost forgot – today is the 60th anniversary of the collapse of part of the American Falls at Niagara Falls. It was on this day on July 28, 1954 that a huge chunk of Prospect Point broke off the rim of the American Falls and tumbled down to the base of the Falls.

Niagara Falls has been a favorite topic on this blog (here, here and here, among others posts), due to the numerous times my family vacationed there beginning in the early 1960s and continuing to this day.

Only one person – Mr. Frank O. Seed – managed to get a picture of the event as it was happening. At left is one of his series of shots covering the collapse, which changed the view of Prospect Point forever.

You can read all about it here on the excellent Right in Niagara blog, which includes some other interesting events in the history of Niagara Falls.

Two New Bridges on the Way for Lorain – July 1939

The Bascule Bridge under construction, with the old
Swing Bridge in the background
Back on Wednesday, July 26, 1939, the Lorain Journal was celebrating its 60th anniversary. The front page of the second section (shown above) provided a photographic progress report of the two new bridges being constructed (after county voters had finally approved the bonds).

I still think it's incredible that both the Bascule Bridge and the High Level bridges were built at the same time and were dedicated the same day – September 25, 1940. I never knew that while I was growing up; I had always assumed the High Level Bridge was built much later.

Another upcoming improvement mentioned in an article was the plan to extend W. 21st Street so that it connected up with W. Lake Road. The article also mentions that Broadway had just been entirely repaved from the Loop to W. 28th Street with reinforced white concrete.

Judging from the tone of the newspaper articles, it was an exciting time to live in Lorain.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lorain Monument Works Then & Now

1939 Lorain City Directory ad
In a world where so many businesses with 'Lorain' as part of their names have closed (Lorain Printing, Lorain Aluminum, Lorain Drive-in, Lorain Diner, etc.), it's good to see one still around in some form. In this case, it's because they offer a product that everyone buys sooner or later – whether they want to or not!

Lorain Monument Works at 1035 Broadway dates back to the late 1930s – but its roots go back even further than that.

The J. A. Ruscher Company first appeared in the Lorain City Directory as a manufacturer of monuments and headstones around 1912. Back then, it was located at 925 Broadway, but the firm soon moved to 1035 Broadway. It continued to appear at that address until around the mid-to-late 1930's, when  the Lorain Monument Works succeeded it at the same address. Irving McCarthy was the proprietor.

Here's an ad for the firm that appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 31, 1939. It's one of those ads masquerading as an article.

And here's a shot of the building today. As you can see, it's stranded on the original alignment of Broadway, above the Frank Nardini underpass.

Whoever owns the company did a terrific job of refreshing the building. It's quite attractive, and I love the fact that they kept the vintage sign.

It looks like Lorain Monument Works is either affiliated with or part of Lewis Monument Company today. Here's a link to the company website.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vintage Postcards of Johnson Hill in Amherst

Dennis Lamont sent me the link to this vintage postcard, which was for sale on Ebay last week. It depicts a view of Johnson Hill, looking north on S. Main Street towards its intersection with Elyria Avenue. The Plenochrome postcard was postmarked August 1912 and was published by H. A. Williams, Amherst, Ohio.

I'm not very knowledgable when it comes to Amherst or its history, so I wasn't familiar with Johnson Hill.

It turns out that apparently this serene scene was a popular subject for postcards. Here's another version, courtesy of the Amherst Public Library website. According to this link on the library's website, the postcard dates to 1910. (The site also points out a landmark visible in the background on the postcard that still exists today.)

The two-story house on the far left of each postcard, sitting high up from the road, can be seen in this current aerial shot below (courtesy of Bing maps). It's still all by itself at the top of the hill, on a huge lot, more than a hundred years after the postcards were published.
Here's a closer look at the house, courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor's website (below). According to the website, it dates to 1904.
This past weekend, on a cloudy Sunday morning, I attempted to get a through-the-windshield "now" shot to match the postcards. But a century of tree growth made it fairly impossible. As Dennis pointed out, it is "a view that is long gone."
I'll have to try again sometime to get a better shot – maybe in the fall.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lorain Gets its Own "White House" – July 1930

A Leiter photograph of Lorain City Hall
(Courtesy Paula Shorf)
Lorain's former City Hall is a favorite topic of mine on this blog.

Why? Because it's a symbol of Lorain during its thriving days, in which the steel mill, the Ford Plant, the shipyard and all of the other companies and family businesses were booming. It represents the Lorain of my youth.

Ironically, it seems that once the old, decrepit City Hall was knocked down (along with the Police Station and much of Downtown) and replaced with a towering, garish monstrosity, the city's fortunes began to sink.

I've chronicled much of the history of the old City Hall, including a 6-part history (here), a 1934 article about the building's original "life" as the William Jones mansion (here), and the addition of more parking around the building in 1955 (here).

Well, here's another piece of the former City Hall's history – a Lorain Journal article (below) from July 12, 1930 about the impending whitewashing of the building, whose bricks had been painted red for years.

From the article, it sounds like part of the decision to paint the building white was just to keep men employed during the Depression.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lorain Printing Ad – July 12, 1954

Here's an ad featuring one of those iconic companies that really symbolized Lorain in its heyday: the Lorain Printing Company.

The ad – which appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 12, 1954 – announced the company's move to its new home at 1310 Colorado Avenue after decades at its old location.

Edwin G. Koethe founded the company back on May 1, 1905. It began in a 30-foot square foot building on Sixth Street. It quickly established a reputation for quality and workmanship, and embraced each new innovation in printing.

In 1933, Urban S. Koethe became associated with the company. He took over the active management of the firm for his father in 1938.

According to an article in the Lorain Journal in 1955, it was the first printing company in the area to become highly specialized in the use of four-color process printing. The firm served a sales area of a radius of 100 miles of Lorain

The business closed in 2002. (The printing company in Cleveland where I work hired several of Lorain Printing's fine employees.)

Today, the former plant on Colorado Avenue serves as the home for Faith Word Community Church.

The view this past Sunday