This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Historic street photography and the slice of life


I love old photos, especially of Phoenix, Arizona. So I collect them, and look at them a lot. Mostly I'm trying to figure out where the buildings were, that sort of thing. I look at buildings, streets, and mountains. And then I started noticing something - life.

In the last couple of years I've discovered some pretty awesome high-resolutions scans from places like the Duke University, and ASU. And while mostly these scans were done to record the buildings, there's life to be seen there, and it's fun to see.

Since I have a nice big 21" iMac, and Photoshop, I can really zoom into these images. And what I am seeing fascinates me, more than just the buildings, the streets, and the mountains. There are all of the ordinary things of life, cars going by, people walking, advertising, signs, businesses, restaurants. When I find these things, I zoom in, crop the photo, and call them a "slice of life".

So I guess this makes kind of like a street photographer. I didn't take the photos - most were taken long before I was born, but I am looking for the things that street photographers cherish. They're the ordinary things of life, which are ultimately the most precious.

Image at the top of this post: Looking west on Washington at 5th Street in the 1960s, Phoenix, Arizona. From the Duke University Libraries. Slice of life.


Central Avenue and Adams in 1908, Phoenix, Arizona.

The northwest corner of Central and Washington in the 1930s, Phoenix, Arizona.


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