Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

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The Monster Mile” before it was a monster! (And the origin of the name.)

March 9, 2010

Aerial view of Dover Downs ca. 1965.

I’ve been cataloguing a collection of photographs representing the professional work of Cypen Lubitsh and Jack Bungarz.  They operated Lubitsh and Bungarz, a photographic studio in Wilmington from ca. 1950 until 1989.  I opened a folder to describe it for the on-line cataloguing project and could hardly believe my eyes!  Here was an aerial view labeled Dover Downs.  But what I saw in this view from about 50 years ago blew my mind- what changes time has wrought!  These days, a racing weekend at the Dover International Speedway means busy lunch counters and hotel/motel rooms all across the state.  Here was a view of a well-groomed track in the middle of almost nothing.  A few horses trot around the track but where is the giant monster holding a truck in the air, where are the lots of trailers parked for a race weekend, where are the slots, casino games and hotel?  And, where is Route 1 that passes so close to the rear of the track?!!  Wow!  (For those of us who have been around, it is easy to remember the track before it was “really big” with slots and the 46’ tall giant monster statue.  This stunning view was taken before the outside, racing track was built, and maybe even dreamed about.  Today the complex covers 750 acres. 

The track opened in 1969 as America’s first multi-purpose sports complex and remains that still today.  It’s busy schedule from opening day in 1969 included thoroughbred and standard bred horse racing  on the interior 5/8 mile oval and world-class auto racing on the outside one-mile track.  The concrete auto racing track boasted a new design called “variable degree” which helped drivers transition from flat straights to high-banked turns.  This new design allowed for drivers to reach unprecedented speeds on the one-mile track, earning it the nickname “The Monster Mile.”  It is fiercely known to have destroyed cars and driver’s hopes, an alternate definition of “monster.” 

Who says history at the Delaware Historical Society is boring.  Ha!

Ellen

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The Delaplane (not just a Newark area street name)

March 2, 2010

Delaplane, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

Robie Seidlinger, engineer and builder sits at the controls of Delaware’s first aeroplane. This was taken at the Horse Show Park, now a fashionable neighborhood known as Wawaset Park in Wilmington.

(The following information was abridged and adopted from George J. Frebert, Delaware Aviation History (Dover, DE, 1998)
One hundred years ago the Wilmington Aero Club (WAC) was incorporated. The organizers included David Snellenberg, Robie Seidelinger, George W. Crowe and John Montgomery. They contributed $1000 and sold shares in their enterprise which they hoped would allow them to develop a world-renowned aviation experimental group. The long range plan included highly publicized air-shows and innovation. At the time, they knew they could purchase a Wright (you guessed it- the Wright brothers) Flyer for $5,000 but instead the men opted to spend an estimated $6,000 for member Robie Seidelinger to design and build a plane. He did just that and in August, 1910 the Delaplane was nearly complete and was displayed at the fairgrounds.

The plane met with approval from J.D. McCurdy, an assistant to Glenn Curtiss (of Curtiss airplane fame) and word spread rapidly about the plane. After a couple of miscues because of weather, the plane was finally flown on October 21, 1910. It was placed in a hangar for the winter, with big plans for a huge event in the upcoming June. Unfortunately the hangar was struck by lightning and the entire structure and the plane were consumed by the flames. There lies the sad demise of the Delaplane.
This year marks the one hundredth birthday of the Delaplane and the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame will be celebrating. Don’t miss out on the fun and the rest of Delaware’s history, check them out at http://www.dahf.org/. This Delaware Historical Society is so glad to know it owns the only know photograph of this plane.

Happy 11:45 everyone, Ellen

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Happy 11:45 from the 1860s!

December 15, 2009

2nd and West Streets, Wilmington, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

It’s 11:45 and I’m enjoying a trip back in time. I’m nearly finished cataloging the Delaware Historical Society’s Stereocard Collection into Cuadra Star and I am enjoying these last moments visiting another era! I thought I’d share a little with you- nothing sensational- just fun today.

I picked two views to share- both of 2nd Street but in different towns. The first view shows the corner of 2nd and West Streets in Wilmington in the mid-1860s. It looks like a pretty normal day- a few people walk along the street and it looks as if the maid for the home and one of the youngsters of the family are posed at the corner of the house. I just love the “action shot” of the lady with her long dress walking in front of the home. Most stereocard views are much more staged than this seems to be.

2nd St., New Castle

The second image shows 2nd Street too, but it’s Second Street in New Castle. This house sits across from the Arsenal, a well-known site in New Castle then and today. This one looks different as I converted it into a grayscale image for another purpose. In this view, the photographer spent some time arranging his subjects, or possibly asking the owner of the home what he/she/they might like to have pictured. Standing in front of the horse and buggy is the man responsible for keeping the horse. His jacket is torn on its sleeve- and stands in sharp contrast to the fancy hat of the owner, who you see standing behind the buggy and nearly blocked from view.

Between the two views, we get a tiny sense of what life was like some 130 years ago. Pretty cool job I have today!

-Until Next Time, Ellen

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Pot Luck, Train Trips and Social Media…

November 3, 2009

Broadside

Yesterday at 11:45  I pulled up to the Shipley Street side of the Delaware Historical Society to run in with my pot luck item for our staff lunch and to pick up my parking pass.  Our parking lot is occupied with scaffolding as the museum building (which sits next to the parking lot) is getting a partial new roof.  So, the staff is now scattered among a few parking lots in the neighborhood.  I was off the last part of last week and in these times of paying for parking, we do our best to share our spots.  My pass was used by a volunteer on Friday so I needed to get it back.

The library is open from 1:00-9:00pm on Mondays, except for once a month when the entire Society staff gathers at 12:00 for an all-staff meeting/lunch.  We regularly schedule pot-luck lunches as we have a fair number of good cooks and it is always nice to cook for others.  Any crankiness I might feel about having to head into work an hour early, (I covet my Monday morning free time) is usually quickly dispelled as our pot luck gatherings are usually relaxed and enjoyable meals and today’s lunch was just that.  Vegetarian chili, dips and cheeses with crackers, bean and corn salad, tomato pie, potato salad, carrot cake and cookies to give you a hint…yummm.

At the lunch meetings, the different staff teams take turns updating the rest of the staff about upcoming programs/projects/etc.  Today we heard from the development, marketing and membership team.  Greg Coin, the head of the team is always percolating all sorts of things, so it is good to hear from him.  He brought us up to date about upcoming partnerships/promotions and programs relating to the railroad exhibit- the major exhibit scheduled for next year.  He then turned the meeting over to our social networking guru, Andrea, who presented a spiffy powerpoint presentation about Web 2.0 and social networking.  We at the Society have been on the blogging/twittering/flickring gig for almost a year, leaning heavily on Andrea the whole way, but most of the staff is just now working to get up to speed.  It was a great presentation and a few more of the staff now more fully understand the potential for the Society in utilizing/participating in the wave of interactive web activity.  Picture in your head a bunch of history-professionals, all over the age of 40 except one (there are more young ones- they happened not to be in attendance)with puzzled looks on their faces- trying to pretend we “get it!”

Every generation puts its stamp on the world.  The “gen y’s” have certainly made their mark already and it is dizzying to see all the potential that is out there for those who wish to participate.  But how do we get the word about the Society out to people who would want to know, especially if they don’t have a clue that they would like to know about our collections and our work?!!!  We’ve been grateful for a few pats-on-the-back along the way from you all- telling us you’ve read “Making History 11:45”  Today I learned from my parents who live nearly 1000 miles from Delaware and are in their 70s that occasionally they check in to see what’s happening!  Pretty cool!  Let us know what you like, want more of, would like to see.  We’re all ears (or should I say computer screens!!).  It’s been fun sharing some of the things that fill our days with you.

I’ve been working on a book project and ran across a broadside that I thought you’d like to see.  It was posted in Delaware City about 150 years ago and was encouraging citizens of the town to visit the traveling photographer to have their portrait taken.  Who knew then that photography wasn’t just a passing fad?!

I’ll be in touch-

Ellen

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What the heck are they doing?

February 25, 2009

Fishers, originally uploaded by Delaware Historical Society.

We are trying to get ready for two big projects- installation of a new HVAC system in the library and uploading as much material from the library collections into our new software system for an online catalog- both are happening this calendar year.

Between the two big projects- I’m just trying to clean up a lot of loose ends. In doing that, I ran across a fun set of unidentified photos- this is one of them.

It dates to 1906 and was taken by a local professional photographer, Emile Bucher. These men are gathered at some place, I think from looking at the other images that they may be along the Delaware River in New Castle. And they are cooking/preparing something to eat (I think). But what??? The rest of the images in this set tell me that these men are a little wacky in a fun way so it’s hard to know if we should take anything seriously- but having said that- the “cooking system’ seems real- there is smoke black on the top of the stove pipe.

But, are those bird houses in the frying pans? Does that mean that the cage-thing is filled with little bird bodies? It is all strange and I’m hoping that someone out there can tell me “Oh, they are —-.”

Anybody out there who can help?
Thanks, Ellen

I guess even if you can’t say what they’re doing, it might be fun to hear your ideas! Maybe one day I’ll post the rest of the images and challenge someone to make a video of these crazy guys and their 1906 fun times!

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