Third Street & Minnesota Avenue. Today the Landers Hotel is gone but several of the other buildings are still there. A couple of striking changes are the addition of a lot of trees and the disappearance of a lot of signs.
Here is it is today.
The oval windows in the two T's on the right suggest replacement tops. It seems tops needed to be replaced every 5 to 10 years in places with harsh winters.
I love all of Jay's pictures, finding details, identifying cars, and wondering what the story is. One thing I've noticed consistently in these old pictures: There aren't any trees, or at least there are often very few trees.
Were most old pictures of cars taken on the Great Plains or down town where trees don't grow? Many are in farm settings. Were all the tress cut down for firewood and to clear a field for planting? Or, am I looking too hard at the machinery and not noticing trees?
Being from Atlanta, I'm used to living in a forest, but old photos of Atlanta, particularly Civil War images, show the place completely bare of trees. Everything had been cut down for steam engine fuel and and railroad cross ties. Trees were not able to thrive here until petroleum took over as a portable energy source.
The concept of the city or urban progressive growth in the 20's and 30's was still fairly trendy and trees are an icon of our rural/argricultural past. The inclusions of trees in design was an emotional and beautifying response to the concrete jungle of the city...which doesn't come in 'til later in the century. In other words, they just didn't jive with the idea if cities initially.
Before the coming of Europeans, a squirrel could have crossed Pennsylvania jumping from tree to tree, without ever having to descend to the ground. In fact the entire east side of North America was one of the world's great forests. When the first settlers came from England and other countries, they began clearing land for farming. By the time of United States independence, much of New England was cleared, along with large areas of the middle and southern states. In the northwest territories the great forest remained, but as the new states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois were established settlers moved in and cleared the land for farming, cutting down the trees and burning the stumps. By the middle of the nineteenth century vast areas of those states had been converted from forest to open farmland. There were still forested areas, of course, but they were separated by miles of open land.
When settlers invaded the trans-Mississippi plains in the last half of the nineteenth century, they encountered a radically different ecology. Thousands of square miles were open grasslands. Periodic wildfires cleared the land of all trees except along streams. The first homesteaders built their houses of sod blocks cut from the prairie. Lumber had to be imported from far away, making it costly. When my great grandfather built his first house here soon after the Civil War, lumber had to be brought by wagon from Emporia over a hundred miles north. When the cemetery was established, he took a wagon a hundred miles down into I.T. to bring back cedar seedlings from the Cimarron River.
Over the decades things changed greatly. When those settlers from New England moved on to clear better farmland in the new states, the farmland of New England started gradually reverting to forest. Farther west, the wildfires of the prairies became a thing of the past as the grasslands were plowed for farming. Trees were planted on farmsteads, and as they grew birds spread their seeds wherever the ground wasn't plowed.
About twenty years ago my mom, who was raised here, came from California for a visit. She was amazed to find that we have deer. When she was a kid there weren't any, because there was no cover for them. Today, in this land where there we no trees, one of my regular chores is cutting off little trees that come up in unfortunate locations, and poisoning the stumps. In this land where cedar seedlings had to be imported for the new cemetery, today an untended pasture in a few years will fill up with bird-planted cedars. In fact there are commercial businesses whose only work is cedar removal.
In general, you could say that deforestation was the order of the day until the twentieth century, and reforestation has been going on for the past century. A lot of the country has more trees today than a hundred years ago.
I think your timetable is correct, Steve. The effort to deforest turned around about when the automobile was introduced. The motorized efficiency of farming may have been a factor.
In Atlanta, there were small produce farms and dairies close in up until the end of WWII. I remember when cotton was still grown in what are now crowded suburbs. What were cattle farms and corn fields when I was a youngster have now been artificially returned to forest and packed with houses, and there's plenty of food for everybody.