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Cool B’ham Spot: Library Archives July 5, 2006

Posted by cbuchanan in Uncategorized.

Have you ever been there? You really need a reason to go there, I suppose, because they don’t just let you paw through the pictures with your oily fingers of document destruction, but make up a reason–because the place is a gold mine.

I went there on Monday to look at photos that may be translated into future prints. I was looking for angles and images I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else, so they pulled several folders of photos for me. I found what I needed pretty quickly, but I spent a ton of time just poring over the details of every photo–I was time traveling and learning something new every second.

For example, during a year when people wore hats and streetcars trundled down 20th Street, some character called the “Human Fly” climbed up the side of the Empire Building, drawing an enormous crowd that filled the adjacent intersection. People were nearly spilling out of the Empire’s windows (even standing on the window ledges) to watch the guy climb. I wonder if he ever made it to the top? I’ll imagine that every time I look at that building now.

Other photos taught me that the Five Points building now housing Bell Bottoms has a name: Sloss-Sheffield. And it once housed a cigar shop. And–this really surprised me for some reason–that corner was carved out of the Red Mountain slope. One photo I saw showed steep hillside right next to the building on the Highland Ave. side. Another thing that made me drool: a spectacular giant lighted sign on a rooftop beyond the Empire Building. I couldn’t read it to see what it advertised, but it sure did look good.

I’m going to have to find more reasons to visit the archives. Even if they make me wear the dainty white photo-safe gloves.



1. dresramblings - July 10, 2006

Don’t forget about the access to the archives on the web. There is the official site located at http://www.bham.lib.al.us/resources/digital_project/ and the Digital Archives blog located at http://bpldigital.blogspot.com/. Both are a great jumping off point.

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