Look at the Traffic on East Parkway in 1912



Even by modern-day standards, East Parkway has never seemed, to me, to be a particularly busy street. But goodness gracious, it's like the Autobahn compared to how it used to look 100 years ago.

This view shows what I believe to be the intersection of East Parkway and Madison in 1912. If that's true (and it's just a guess, really), then we are looking south. The picture is taken from a wonderful series of books called The Art Work of Memphis, published by the Gravure Illustration Company of Chicago. The book — actually a series of nine large-format softcover  booklets — contains wonderful views of our city's homes, churches, streets, cemeteries, and other landmarks.

The book actually belongs to my pal Lee Askew, of Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects, who kindly let me look through it and scan the images that appealed to me. I'll post some of them here and there, when I feel like it.

Keep in mind that our city's Parkway system had just been laid out a few years before this photo was taken, so there's not much to see here. If you look very closely, right in the center of the image are a couple of boys, with their bicycles lying on the ground. But I doubt that's why the photographers snapped this picture. I guess they just thought the bucolic nature of the scene met their standards for "art work" in Memphis.

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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Find Vance's old blog posts (pre-April 2011) and comments here.

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