Champaign, Il. 1900. Fifteen thick card leaves, including title leaf, and illustrated with thirty-three original photographs, some 3.5 x 4.5 inches but most 4.5 x 6.5 inches, each with accompanying manuscript caption. Oblong quarto. Contemporary black cloth, "Photographs" stamped in gilt on front cover, string tied. Spine chipped, boards a bit soiled and edge-worn. Edges of some photographs a bit worn, but overall in very nice shape. Very good. Item #4172
Likely a unique photographic record of a substantial municipal improvement project in Champaign, Illinois at the turn of the 20th century. According to the title card taped to the first page, the project was directed by George Tiller, the foreman of construction, and W.H. Tarrant, the city engineer, and took place over the course of three years, 1898-1900. The project was focused on road improvements, and features the paving of several streets in Champaign. Some of the images picture before-and-after views of the same street. For instance, a pair of photos show Main Street as it was paved in 1883, and then the same view of Main Street "after pavement was finished" in 1900. Other photographs feature workers "putting in concrete" on Neil Street in May 1900; "putting in concrete curb & gutter" on West Hill Street in 1900; "laying concrete foundation" on West University in 1899; putting in a brick sidewalk on West University Avenue in 1899; digging and laying a five-foot sewer line under Second South Street; laying brick pavement on Elm Street in 1899; sub-grading West Hill Street in October 1900; excavating the railway tracks on Main Street in 1900; digging and laying a "steam heat trench near Imperial Blvd.;" rolling the freshly-laid brick pavement on Fremont Street; and more. In addition to the construction photos, the album holds one elevated view of Champaign southeast of City Blvd. The final two images in the album document the thirty-plus laborers responsible for "concreting Illinois Street" in Urbana; the workers are a combination of white and African-American men. A well-composed series of original photographs documenting municipal improvements to numerous locations in Urbana-Champaign, likely a unique surviving collection.