This is an interesting photograph of the Airship Akron, just before its departure and shortly before its fatal crash.
The Doomed Airship Just Before Its Last Flight
A Photograph of Vaniman with His Cat Kiddo, Who Accompanied Him on Many of His Voyages
The Akron was a dirgible built by pioneering American photographer, inventor, adventurer and early aviator Chester Melvin Vaniman (1866-1912).
Vaniman built the Akron in an effort to be the first to cross the Atlantic in a dirigible. But on its first attempt the Akron exploded on July 2, 1912, the Akron exploded just off the shore of New Jersey, killing Vaniman and his crew.
The picture is interesting, not only because it records some of the final hours of the doomed airship but also because of the crowds that came to see it off. We see an interesting cross section of an America in transition: horse drawn carriages mingle with parked cars and motorcycles, while a giant airship – which would prove to be an evolutionary dead end in terms of aviation – looms in the foreground.
This handsome Haynes Roadster is stopped at a traffic signal on the corner of 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, in Washington D.C. And because this is 1913 the traffic signal is but is “powered” by a traffic policeman who turns a sign depending on whether it is your turn to stop or go. Definitely cutting edge 1913 technology!
Below is another view of the same view:
Note the umbrella for the traffic cop’s comfort as well as the little platform made from scraps of wood, which I suppose was meant to keep him from being run over by traffic. Standing there in the middle of the street doesn’t look that safe. But luckily there are not that many cars on the road.
I find it interesting that there are no horse drawn carriages to be seen anywhere, just lots of other vehicles in the background. It’s amazing how fast the automobile replaced the horse.