What’s in a Picture?

Main Street North BaltimoreOne way to make a historical photograph come alive is to research the people and objects captured in it. Today, computers and the Internet make research much easier for a historian, although a lot of time must still be spent looking at old newspapers, history books, documents, and other old photographs. The effort, however, can add a lot to our knowledge of how people lived when a photograph was taken.

I used this photograph in my book North Baltimore and Its Neighbors because it illustrates the importance of the Interurban street cars to the town. The Toledo, Bowling Green, and Southern Electric Interurban Line provided an alternative to the steam railroads for north/south travel for the town’s residents. It increased their personal mobility and communication with the outside world in a time when the automobile was a new invention owned only by the financially well-off. The Interurban also competed with the railroads for shipping retail goods to local merchants, although the railroads still carried the majority of freight and bulk commodities such as coal or agricultural products. Built sometime between 1890 and 1910, the two Baltimore and Ohio Railroad model M8 wooden boxcars in the photograph’s background illustrate North Baltimore merchants and manufacturers’ dependence on the railroad.

Who is this Man?

Clarence Huddle

In the lower left corner of the photograph, a portly man wearing a bowler hat can be seen just above The Times sign.

Occasionally, an individual can be identified using several additional sources of information. The man in the photo may be Clarence Huddle, who was owner and editor of the North Baltimore Times newspaper during that era. He was known to habitually attend the arrival of steam passenger trains and Interurban cars just to see who got off and to pick up any news that might be worth publishing. The Times newspaper office was located in the building on the east side of North Main Street, just behind Mr. Huddle. His rival, George Wilkinson, the editor of the North Baltimore Beacon, was known to do the same thing.


Clarence Huddle

Clarence Huddle, shown in this photograph working at a commercial printing press in his newspaper office, closely resembles the man watching the arrival of the Interurban cars.

This article also appeared on NBXpress.

What else might this picture tell us?

In addition to Clarence Huddle looking for news, this photo shows a great deal of activity happening on Main Street. If you have any ideas or questions about who or what else might be in this photo, email us at nbahs@wcnet.org or call (419) 257-2266.

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