Posts Tagged ‘Market Street’


Pushmobile Derby Fun!

January 22, 2010

Ready, Set…Go!, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Hello from the photo files! I am working on the finding aid/cataloguing a large collection of photographs from a photographic studio here in Wilmington. Lubitsh and Bungarz Photographers operated first from Market Street then from Orange Street in Wilmington from 1949-1989.

The negative collection is monster-big. A volunteer spent a few years identifying the prints for us and now I am working to her work into our catalog. There are probably somewhere in the vicinity of 2000 prints of some very cool happenings, places and people. Everyone from this little boy who raced and placed in the 1955 Pushmobile Derby sponsored by the Delaware Association of Police, to the Pope John Paul II, a couple of Miss Delaware contestants and Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Kennedy. The collection includes images of both of the Delaware Memorial Bridges being built, views of homes, banks, businesses, ground breakings and numerous civic ceremonies as well as views of the Getty Oil Refinery (most recently Valero) in Delaware City, scenes from Brandywine Raceway and aerial views from across the state.

What a fun collection it is! It is also very significant to us because it picks up almost exactly where the Sanborn Studio (our other very large studio collection) left off. Photographers are some of the very best documenters of history and this is certainly true of Lubitsh and Bungarz.

The Bungarz Print collection, named as such because it was a gift to the Delaware Historical Society from Jack Bungarz after his long-time partner, Cypen Lubitsh had died and as he was retiring from the business, is a rich treasure of everyday scenes and important events, as such it is an indispensable resource for all of us. Come down to browse through the boxes or check us out on-line in a few months!

Until next time- enjoy 11:45!

Help us identify this image!

Pushmobile Derby Winner
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

This little boy raced in the Pushmobile Derby in Wilmington in 1955. He drove the car sponsored by the Lubitsh and Bungarz Photographers. Partner Cy Lubitsh is seen posing to the left of the boy on his car- is this his son? We don’t have an identification- anybody out there who could help? The boy was apparently good, as he is seen here in the second image accepting his prize from the race officials. The Delaware Association of Police sponsored the event which featured the work of local boys in cooperation with local businesses.

Getting ready for Pushmobile Derby
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr
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A Whale of Tale!

November 5, 2009
Lucy the Whale, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Wow – we’re busy this week. Two blog posts in one day! (Sometimes that seems that we have so much to write about while other weeks….well….)

The start of building Lucy the Giant Whale
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

This week I’ve super busy getting ready for Fall Fest. It’s a free city family event that takes place along Market Street – the 400 through the 800 blocks. There will be a lot going on and we’re excited about participating.

It's all tape and plastic!
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

Our theme this year is water and water safety. It all relates back to the exhibit at the Delaware History Musuem, Whales, Weirs, and Waterfowl. I’ve spend my week making bean bag tosses, duck ponds, and fishing games. However, I think (if I do say so myself) that the best part of Fall Fest is going to be Lucy the Giant Whale!

I found out about Lucy through a Twitter friend who tweeted out the website of where to order instructions. (She’s part of the curriculum materials developed by Whale Net at Wheelock College. and the Mingan Island Cetacean Study) I thought she was awesome and asked if we could make her for Fall Fest. (After all – the first part of our exhibit title is Whales).

Lucy's insides
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

I ordered the instructions (MICS was so good about sending them to me ASAP). I bought the materials over the weekend and we began constructing Lucy on Tuesday. Now – I have to say – in my line of work at the Delaware Historical Society, I don’t often have the opportunity to learn about whales or use the metric system. I’m ashamed to say this BUT…the first two hours of my whale building adventure consisted of trying to re-learn the metric system. (I did know it once upon a time…maybe in 7th grade science.) It also took some head scratching to decipher (and remember) Dorsal Side, Ventral Side, peduncle, flukes, anterior side (head), and posterior side (okay…I knew what that was)!

With a lot of help (five people helping me out) and a lot of jokes along the way – like lots of Jonah and the Whale/Jonas brothers quips (trust me they all related after being at whale building for 5 hours strait), jokes about being able to “add giant” whale to our resumes, and one guide asking if my master’s in history prepare me for this – we managed to build our giant whale. We only had two slight mishaps along the way (like building the head incorrectly the first time and having Lucy “pop” when we first tried to inflate her.) Now that she’s done. I have to say this…SHE’S AWESOME! She’s huge to look at from the outside (I really never knew that whales were that big), but the best part is when you go inside. Yes – you can really go inside!!!

Lucy the Whale
Image by Delaware Historical Society via Flickr

I wouldn’t have been able to do it without help so I’m very grateful for everyone who put to good use their out of practice crawling muscles, risked slipping on giant sheets of plastic, unrolled piece after piece of tape, and stayed late with me to finish her up. These pictures simply don’t do her justice so I hope you’ll come out on Saturday (it’s supposed to be a beautiful day) for the Fall Fest. It’s from 11:00-4:00. Lucy the whale will be in the 500 block of Market St. at the Delaware Historical Society.

Now – onto making duck calls out of plastic straws!

Until 11:45 Next,

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Excitement on Market Street!

October 2, 2009

The Queen 1, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

We had some excitement on Market St. this morning for the groundbreaking of the Queen Theatre – the building right next door to the Delaware History Museum.

The Queen Theater

To put the groundbreaking into historical perspective – it’s not a new building. In fact, there has been something at 500 Market since the 1800s (if not before!)

The Queen 4

However, the groundbreaking was the start a restoration project that will restore the Queen to a performing arts venue called World Cafe Live (there is another World Cafe Live in Philadelphia) and a place to broadcast live with WXPN. In case you can’t tell – I’m excited that there will be such a vibrant musical community right next door to the Delaware History Museum and across the street from our library!!!

The Queen truly is a gem along Market Street (one of my absolute favorite buildings!) It also has an interesting history.

Indian Queen Hotel 1850
Indian Queen Hotel, 1850

It was the Indian Queen Hotel in the mid 1800s.

Clayton House 1893
Clayton House Hotel, 1893

In 1873 the building (as we know it today) opened as the Clayton House hotel. This was an elegant hotel and the second largest building in Wilmington. It had 105 guest rooms, sitting rooms, and parlors. By 1878 it became the first hotel in Delaware to have a passenger elevator and hundreds of people came just to rid up and down. The hotel entrance has two banks and there were stores at the bottom on the King Street side. It closed as the hotel in the early 1900s.

Queen Theater Dressed, 1899

The building reopened in 1916 as the Queen Theatre. It was a movie palace. Vaudeville shows were also performed there regularly.

Queen Theater 1940s
Queen Theatre, 1940s

It remained open as a movie theater but declined in popularity after World War II. It closed in 1959 and it’s been vacant ever since.

So…you can understand why we’re so excited to have such a great space being restored!!! The ground breaking was complete with live musicians, crowds in attendance, and excitement about the project. For more information you can visit the web site of the Light up The Queen Foundation: They have some FABULOUS images of the inside!!!!

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

Some other shots of The Queen Today and Images from the Groundbreaking Celebration:

The Queen 2
The Queen 3
Another Crowd Shot
Performers at the Groundbreaking
Jonatha Brooks @ Queen Groundbreaking
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We’re walking…and we’re walking…

June 12, 2009

Walking Tour Group Getting Started, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

About three years ago we had an exhibit at the Delaware History Museum about Market Street in Wilmington. It was one of the most popular exhibits we’ve had since I’ve worked for DHS. As part of the exhibit, we conducted oral histories with community members and we put together a walking tour that really focused on change – how Market has continually changed through the years and it will continue to change in the future.

Though the exhibit has come and gone, the walking tours have not. We generally hold them on the first Saturday of the month in May, June, August, September and October. They’ve proved to be fairly popular. When I say popular I mean we generally get 6-8 people per walking tour.

I really enjoy giving these walking tours. I love talking to people about history, but I like these walking tours because I learn so much. Okay – I’m going to admit something to you – I’m not a native Delawarean. In fact, I’ve lived in PA practically my whole life and only in July will I become an official Delaware resident. So when I lead these walking tours I learn from the participants about a fairly recent history that I didn’t get to experience. I’ve learned things like this building used to be this business, and you had to wear white gloves to go shopping in this store, and this store sold boy scout uniforms. (I’ve even been told by walking tour participants which of the old theaters on Market Street used to show naughty films!)

Wilmington Dry Goods

Take Wilmington Dry Goods, for example. In the walking tour outline there is quite a bit of information about Wilmington Dry Goods. From the walking tour research and outline – it seems like any other store along Market Street. It was opened by Joseph Lazarus, a Russian Immigrant in 1924. It closed in 1974 (like so many other stores along Market Street) and was demolished in 1986. But through leading these walking tours – I’ve learned there is so much more to the story. When walking tour groups stand on 4th Street looking at a big gaping hole where Wilmington Dry used to be their eyes light up. Yes – they light up looking at a big empty hole. That’s because they have such wonderful memories of Wilmington Dry Goods – it makes me wish that I had the opportunity to shop there.

Inside Wilmington Dry

I’ve learned that the store opened every day with the playing to the Star Spangled Banner. They had great sales and buses came from PA, NJ, MD just for the sales – a 4 cent table, $7.00 suits, hosiery 2 pairs for a dollar. Sometimes as many as 200 people waited in line wrapping around the block. There was even a “riot” during WWII when Wilmington Dry advertised they had nylon hosiery for sale! There were wooden sales tables inside. The floors were squeaky. It smelled like hot dogs. People constantly tell me that Wilmington Dry Goods was the greatest store in the world!!!! (If you noticed in the picture – the store front proudly proclaims itself as the greatest store in the world!!!)

On these walking tours, however folks inevitably ask about the architecture along Market Street. And just like I admitted I am not (yet) a Delawarean – I don’t know much about architecture. So this past Saturday we held a special architectural tour of Market Street. This is what I did last Saturday at 11:45! Eldon Homsey of Homsey architects led the tour and we had 26 people come!!! (Thanks Facebook!!!) I was incredibly pleased with the turnout.

And what I learned from the tour – besides some fancy architectural words like octagonal bays, muntin, and curly cues (…okay I’m not sure if that’s really an official architectural phrase or not…) – is that people aren’t just interested in architecture. Nor are they just interested in the history of Market St. They want to learn about both. While I knew this from leading other tours, it was just reinforced on Saturday. I’m hoping by our next tour in August, we’ll be able to talk a little bit about architecture, a little bit about the history of Market Street, and a whole lot about change!!!

Until 11:45 Next, Andrea

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