Photographs, Preservation

On Bloomington’s brick streets

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

In Bloomington, Indiana, just north of the Indiana University campus, you’ll find nine blocks where the interior streets are paved in brick. Bounded by 7th Street on the south, 10th Street on the north, Indiana Avenue on the west, and Woodlawn Avenue on the east, these streets are lined with lovely older homes.

I was in Bloomington in late July to have lunch with my son. My Nikon FA was with me, its 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor lens mounted. I was shooting some expired Kroger-branded, Ferrania-made ISO 200 color film I had picked up cheap. I overexposed the film by a stop to reduce the color shifts I was likely to get at box speed.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

Brick’s heyday as a primary paving material was the 1910s and 1920s. I don’t know when these bricks were laid, but I’d be surprised if it were much earlier or later than those two decades. The occasional brick street or road was laid after then, but more for aesthetic reasons than practical ones. Concrete and then asphalt came to rule the roads.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

These streets have been maintained, but never restored. While I’m sure these bricks were in perfect rows when they were first laid, they’ve shifted in the century or so since and look uneven now. You’ll find patches where newer bricks were laid, probably to repair deteriorated sections or to replace bricks removed to access buried utilities. Here and there, concrete was used to replace removed brick.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets

The real stars of this neighborhood’s show are the gorgeous older homes that line these brick streets. The university owns many of them and uses them as offices. The rest appear to be private residences. The rest of this post are the houses I liked best of those I photographed.

On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets
On Bloomington's Brick Streets

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Road Trips

Illinois US 50: Crossing the Wabash River from Indiana

In 2009, my good friend Michael and I made a rush one-day trip along all of the old US 50 alignments we could find in Illinois, starting at the Indiana/Illinois state line. I wrote about this trip on my old Roads site, which I plan to deprecate. I’m moving that content to this site.

Someone I follow on Flickr loves bridges. At least, I assume he loves bridges, because every week he uploads another batch of old-bridge photos. Not long ago, he uploaded several photos of some abandoned steel truss bridges along US 50 in Illinois. I knew I had to go see.

Just a couple months before, I totaled my car as I passed from West Virginia into Ohio while exploring the National Road. It made me feel skittish about driving on the highway, I knew I needed to make another road trip as soon as I could. An Illinois US 50 trip seemed like just the thing.

Brick segments of old US 50
Brick section near the Wabash River

As you might imagine, US 50 has a long history in Illinois. Some of my roadfan buddies have shared research with me that take this road’s roots back to 1806, when a mail route and a stagecoach road was created between Vincennes, Indiana and St. Louis, Missouri, along the corridor that became US 50. One part of this corridor may have been part of a trace called the Goshen Road. In 1913, this corridor became part of the Midland Trail, an early coast-to-coast automobile road. Then it became State Route 12 and, finally, US 50 in 1926.

I knew going in that I wouldn’t be able to cover this road to my usual obsessive-compulsive level of detail – just driving to and from the Illinois state line, would consume much of my time, and I was planning to cut 2/3 of the way across Illinois. That’s a lot of ground to cover. I intended this trip to be a recon mission for an eventual return trip. (Sadly, that return trip never happened.)

This trip began in Vincennes with my dog and my good friend Michael along for the ride. We started at the center of this photo, where the bridge crosses the Wabash River. Despite the US 50 shields on the map, US 50 has bypassed Vincennes to the north for many years.

The Abraham Lincoln Bridge that connects Indiana to Illinois here was built in 1933. It’s easy to find photos of this lovely bridge on the Internet – just search on “Vincennes bridge” in Google Image Search. But all the photos are from the Indiana side. Now, perhaps for the first time on the Internet, here are photos from the Illinois side.

Lincoln Memorial Bridge

I couldn’t decide which of these two photos I liked better, so I’m sharing them both.

Lincoln Memorial Bridge

Before 1933, US 50 crossed into Illinois on a different bridge a little to the north. This 1909 postcard images shows that it had a steel arch truss portion and a wooden covered portion.

The old bridge itself was quite a contraption. At its center was a swing bridge which pivoted 90 degrees to allow boats to pass. Originally, wooden covered bridges connected the swing bridge to both shores. In researching this bridge at my favorite bridge site, bridgehunter.com, I found these postcard images that show how the bridge evolved.

In this image, a covered bridge stands on the Illinois side and a bowstring arch swing bridge stands in the middle. By this time, however, the covered bridge on the Indiana side had been replaced with two bowstring arch spans, probably on the same piers and abutments.

Finally, the Lincoln Memorial Bridge was built. The two bridges coexisted for a while. By this time the wooden covered spans had been replaced by Parker through trusses. The swing bridge had been updated with what looks to me to be two pony Warren trusses with verticals.

The blue line on the aerial image below shows where the old bridge used to be and how the road curved a bit on the Illinois side. Notice that the old road is still there.

It’s a brick road!

Brick segments of old US 50

The faint blue line on this aerial image shows the road’s path from the shore. Whoever owns the property now parks his car on old US 50! From the air, it looks like the old bridge’s approach is still there at the shoreline. I would have loved to see if doing so had not meant trespassing.

The road leading to the old bridge site on the Vincennes side is brick, too – check out the lower right quadrant of this aerial photo.

Back to the Illinois side. Here’s old US 50 westbound to where it merges with current US 50.

Brick segments of old US 50

Check out how this brick road was made to curve.

Brick segments of old US 50

Ten feet above the old brick road, along the newer Old US 50, is this memorial to Abraham Lincoln and his family as they first entered Illinois near this spot.

Lincoln memorial

Next: We pass quickly through Lawrenceville, Sumner, Olney, and Noble, to come upon three old bridges on a long abandoned section of US 50.

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On St. Clair St.

Forest land
Pentax ME, 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A
Agfa APX 100 (expired 7/1998)
2018

“You look tired,” my boss said. “Listen, we can handle everything here. Take tomorrow off. Get a one-day head start on the weekend.”

was tired. We’d had a changing of the guard at work. The fellow who hired me, a company co-founder, had exited. His replacement had been on the job just a few weeks, and brought with her a whole host of process improvements that she aimed to implement rapidly. It’s been a lot of change in a short time, and it came while I’ve been mourning my father. I’d been pushing pretty hard.

I spent my free Friday alone. A buddy had sent me some expired, but always frozen, Agfa APX 100 film, so I loaded some into my Pentax ME. I started the day shooting my 50mm f/1.4 SMC Pentax-M lens but as my path too me downtown I found myself at Roberts Camera buying a nice used 35mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-A lens.

I spent the rest of the day with it mounted to the ME. This was one of the first shots I made with that lens. Just look at how much life that lens and film rendered into those bricks!

I’m still tired, by the way. At least I am as I write this, near the end of March. But as this post publishes my family is back from a week’s vacation. Hopefully this post finds me refreshed. But I also need some blog breathing room. So all this week I’m publishing single frame posts from that day of photography.

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Film Photography

single frame: Forest land

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Image

Peacock Road

Peacock Road
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

This is a nearly forgotten old alignment of the National Road in Ohio, still open to traffic. But as you can see, it gets very little of that. These bricks were laid in the 1910s or 1920s.

Photography, Road Trips

Photo: Peacock Road, a part of the National Road in Ohio

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Guinness

St. James’ Gate
Nikon N2000, 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor
Kodak T-Max 400
2016

We went to the Guinness Storehouse while we were in Dublin. Meh.

Film Photography, Travel
Image

The Bungalow Inc

The Bungalow, Inc.
Kodak VR35 K40
Fujicolor 200 (I think)
2011

Of late I’ve been either busy, or ill, or busy and ill. It’s left little energy for photography. So to feed the blog I’ve been trawling through my photo archive for ones that please me. My mom bought me my first Kodak VR35 K40 new in the late 80s. Though it was just a point and shoot, it was the nicest camera I ever owned and it always did reasonable work. I don’t know what became of it. I paid a couple bucks for this one at Goodwill.

Film Photography
Image