Friday, November 23, 2012

The 360 Panorama at Fox Blue is Spectacular

I have been fascinated by the panorama on the wall at Fox Blue ever since I first saw it and spied Watt Shipp's storefront in it.

E.S. Lamport Saddlery
next to Watt Shipp Sporting Goods
and bikes, horses, and cars
David Fox reports that I'm far from the only one who loves this 360 view taken from the intersection of Court and Commercial.  He says daily he witnesses and participates in conversations about it.

Commercial and Court, May 1913; part 1
the full 360 panorama can be seen on the wall at Fox Blue
Commercial and Court, May 1913; part 2
the full 360 panorama can be seen on the wall at Fox Blue
Naturally, a big part of many conversations is speculation about its dating - when and why was it taken? It's possible that with the original image or negative in a file somewhere the information exists.  But you know how it goes.  As these things get handed down, from person to person, information is lost at each link in the chain.  It's a game of telephone. 

But even without knowing its date, there is plenty to find interesting in it!

Location of Shipp & Hauser at 258 Commercial
Here's another view of the building in which Paul Hauser and Watt Shipp sold bikes between 1901 and 1903.

You can also see the old bones underneath the moderne remodel at Shryock's and Bike Peddler.

How great would it be to have the buildings restored to their 1870s magnificence! Then they would look more like Wild Pear and Cook's Stationery.

Bike Peddler is in an old Building - the Breyman Block
The streets are full of people on bikes, horses, and early automobiles, and you can see streetcar tracks running the length of Commercial.

The panorama, if you have not seen it, is enlarged and mounted on the wall.  It's really spectacular.

One of the first things that people notice is the pattern of stars in the American flags.  There are at least three patterns, two are variations of the 46-star flag, the other a 48-star flag.  This suggests the image was taken after New Mexico and Arizona became states in early 1912.  The cars, too suggest an early 19-teens date.  But the persistence of the 46-star flag, the presence of several horse-drawn carts, and the absence of World War I imagery suggests it is not late in the teens.

46 and 48 star Flags
After chasing several different clues, the critical one turned out to be banners for a sale.

Protzman Campbell Bankruptcy Sale
The bankruptcy sale for Protzman Campbell shoes narrowed the date for the image!

Protzman Campbell Sale, April 1913
The Oregon Shoe Company on Commercial street purchased the stock from Protzman Campbell and then advertised it from April to July of 1913. So it seemed logical to look in this window.

And during this period there were two large festivals in Salem.

The Cherry Fair is the best known.  In 1913 it took place on July 3-5,  and is a strong candidate.  But the weight of clothing in the panorama suggests late spring more than mid-summer to me, however, and the Cherry Fair's events seem to have been centered at the Courthouse, on Church and High, rather than on Commercial. A Chicago Store ad for the Cherry Fair also says "the carnival we invite you to visit is not a carnival of curiosities but a carnival of high class merchandise," and if there was a carnival going on at Commercial and Court, right outside their door, you'd think they would have mentioned it as a draw rather than making such a strong distinction.  You'd also, I think, expect to see more "fourth of July" bunting, other patriotic decoration, as well as cherry stuff in the panorama.

So I am inclined to think the panorama is not from the Cherry Fair.

But there was the Moose Carnival, from May 19-24.

Moose Carnival Preview, May 17th, 1913
The year before, in 1912, the Loyal Order of the Moose in Salem had completed a new lodge in the Derby-Lafky building at the northeast corner of Court and High - the site of Courthouse Square. The Moose wanted to do something splashy and in 1913 proposed a carnival.

According to the preview on May 17th,
The city council has literally turned the town over to the Moose for the occasion and beginning Monday, carnival troupes and their tents will be located at the following places: On Court street, near the Chicago Store, near Ray L. Farmer establishment, near the Capital City Creamery, near Wells Fargo Building, near the Moose Hall, Grand Opera House and Masonic Temple....

The city council will be requested [by the Board of Trade] to make use of the many wires strung from lamp post to lamp post...These wires extend for many blocks in the business district and will be decorated with appropriate bunting and flags...
To my eye, this matches up pretty well with the panorama.  The Chicago Store and Ray Farmer store are kitty-corner on the intersection and figure centrally in the panorama. Flags hang from the wires. 

As for problems with this identification, I'm not sure about the tricolor flags, which appear to match with the carnival tents, as well as the lack of moose insignia generally on the street and in visible storefronts.  But I'm not persuaded these are fatal objections.

So it is at least possible there's a different carnival in 1913 (I find it hard to believe that the show company would run an annual Plotzman Campbell bankruptcy sale!) that better fits the imagery. But this is my best guess.

Looking south on Commercial - Jaywalking hadn't been invented yet
What do you think?

For fun and comparison, here's film of a 1906 trip in San Francisco.

Update - July 24, 2014

In the dining room of La Capitale there was another, smaller print of this panorama. Apparently it stayed when the restaurant was sold, and now Table Five 08 is using it on their website as a background for the menus.

Table Five 08 menu page
Additional inspection at Fox Blue has revealed at least one "moose" pennant in the image, hung from one of the temporary booths, and I now regard this identification as secure.


Anonymous said...

July 3-5 is really the beginning of summer in the Willamette Valley (I always tell people that it stops raining for good on the 4th of July, but not before), rather than mid-summer, so the clothes people are wearing might be reasonable for early July.

I wonder if there are any astronomers out there who could measure the shadows and tell us whether it's more likely to be mid-May or early July.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Ah, you're right that July 3-5 is the beginning of summer rather than mid-summer. That wasn't the best way to describe it.

If you or others are curious, here are two sets (One, Two) of Cherry Festival photos from 1913. Maybe you will see something I have missed.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

added clip from Table Five 08 website, which uses the image