Homesick Mysteries

Today SHORPY (one of my favorite blogs) ran the following photo:

It is a 1905 photo of Savannah, GA, where I consider my hometown. I was instantly curious to see if I could figure out exactly where it is. I knew right away that it was downtown, there are cable car tracks in the lower section of the photo, and they only really ran down there. There are a limited number of streets in the downtown area that have medians in the center as this one does, looking at Google maps I narrowed it down to Jones, Liberty or Oglethorpe. All of which run roughly east to west, so this photo was facing either north or south. You can see the river in the distance, so it had to be north.

Then it was a matter of picking out details. This building is the old county jail, now a SCAD building, and is on Habersham. You can also see a few of the tombstones from Colonial Cemetery, in the middle area of this closeup. So, it had to be north of Jones, and was most likely Liberty.

This bell is visible on the left of the photo, and I knew it to be a fire bell that used to be in front of the old fire department. I looked up where that was and discovered that the bell was on Oglethorpe. It is no longer up in that tower, but has been dropped to the ground and is part of a fireman's memorial now, but it is in the same place as it always was. That pretty much confirmed that this was Liberty street, but I still couldn't make out where exactly. I thought that it had to be Bull street, judging from the positions of the jail and bell. It bothered me though that the building weren't still there. They are barely over 100 years old, and downtown Savannah hasn't changed that much.

I know that SHORPY uses photos from the Library of Congress archives, so I went there to see if I could track the original. After finding it I was able to get an uncompressed archival version of the photo, which was much higher resolution than the photo that SHORPY posted. I was amazed that upon zooming in I was able to see this:

On the corner of the building are the street signs for Liberty, and hidden behind the shutter is "YTON" or Drayton street. Amazing!

This corner of Liberty and Drayton now houses the Drayton Towers, an abomination of International Style architecture that I doubt would be allowed to be built in the historic district of Savannah today. I even lived there very briefly in the mid 90's!

This was a serious obsession with me for about 3 hours this evening, panning back and forth in Google Street View trying to figure this out... thankfully I was able to work it out, and I don't have to obsess for days on end.

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