Incredible Slide Photo Discovery from 1953 Shows the Wet, Neon-lit Streets of Chicago

When I was very young I asked my Grandma what the world was like when everything was black & white. To a six year old boy, who’d only ever seen references to the past in monochrome on TV or in pictures, it seemed entirely plausible that one day the colour was just turned on. Of course after a little chuckle and explanation Grandma put me straight and told me there was always lots of colour in the world, we just didn’t see that in photos.

This incredible slide from 1953 proves Grandma was right.


Discovered by Adam Paul who runs the A Quirky Guy with a Camera blog you don’t need a discerning eye to spot the qualities within the frame and why it immediately caught his attention.

This is one of the most incredibly atmospheric photos that I have ever had the privilege to see, let alone to own.  When I saw it come up for auction, I just knew that I wanted it, and somehow managed to get it.  This is definitely one of those images that you can really “walk right into” with its nostalgic qualities and exceptional technical quality.  The gorgeous neon signs combined with the reflectivity of the streets plus the great holiday decorations make this a true jaw dropper!

The slide was bought for the hefty sum of $15.59 earlier this year through an eBay auction. The seller had been tasked with selling off the originals from a photo library of souvenir slides under the label Roloc (Colour spelled backwards.) Paul says there is an inscription on the mount that dates the image as November 29th, 1953 which would coincide nicely with the How to Marry a Millionaire film release date, which can be seen in the centre of the image.

Of course Kodachrome had already been around for nearly 20 years by the time this photograph was taken, but what is truly worth admiring is that this was shot on film in what look like very difficult conditions. The photographer (unfortunately uncredited) had to work from experience to get the exposure settings correct and wouldn’t see the image until some time after it was developed. After which there would be no editing process and no darkroom dodging and burning. The slide shot is in effect the final image. Let’s try it in not so many words:

As a colour slide, the photograph would have to be unedited.

We spoke to Adam Paul and he told us that he hasn’t put a great deal of thought into what to do with this trophy in his collection, but has managed to “print it on canvas” to hang in the guests room. He’d be interested in finding out more about what rights he now holds over the image, yet still would like to credit the original photographer.

Chicago, IL, Randolph Street
Chicago, IL, Randolph Street

How would the photo look today? Somewhat remarkably Adam found what he thinks is the location. Judging by the Wallgreens on the right, a lot has changed! Although much of Chicago still has the same appearance as it did in the ’50s, this particular intersection has seen a great deal of redevelopment. For better or worse? Well you can decide that.

This photo originally appeared here on Adam Paul’s blog. Images and text have been used with permission. Thanks for the tip, Mike.

2 thoughts on “Incredible Slide Photo Discovery from 1953 Shows the Wet, Neon-lit Streets of Chicago

  1. Jack June 6, 2016 / 3:53 am

    The picture referenced above was shot by my grandfather, Mervin W. Arps, who is the original owner of Roloc Color Slides. He later sold his business to my father Mervin W. Arps Jr whom took it over in 1966 & continued producing colored pictures of the world & specializing in pictures from the Washington DC area.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Phogotraphy June 6, 2016 / 6:14 am

    Jack, thank you for getting in touch. I will update the post accordingly.


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