Negro Digest offices, State Street
Ebony magazine, 1992
Ebony magazine, 1992
Here are some interesting images of the former Afro-American publishing plant at 628 N. Eutaw Street in Baltimore. The are part of a larger series of photographs included in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), currently housed at the Library of Congress.
HABS is a vast archive which documents notable achievements in architecture, engineering and landscape design in the United States, ranging from the 17th through the 20th centuries. Its been going since the early 1930s - part of a set of cooperative agreements between the National Parks Service, the Library of Congress, and the private sector - and to date has produced more than half-a-million drawings, photographs, and written histories.
Back to the Afro-American building: there is some conflicting data on exactly when the paper vacated the property, but it seems to have occured somewhere between 1990 and 1993. The date at which these images were taken is also unclear, although I would guess it was pretty soon after the newspaper left.
From looking on Google Maps it appears that the main building no longer exists, leaving images such among the last memories of a Black publishing plant that was once once of the largest in the nation.
I've been spending some time poring through the Teenie Harris photograph archives at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. If you haven't heard of Charles "Teenie" Harris, he was a prolific photographer of Pittsburgh's African American communities between the 1930s and the 1970s.
Charles "Teenie" Harris, circa 1938. Carnegie Museum of Art
Harris' vast archives, currently housed at the Carnegie Museum, offer up "one of the most detailed and intimate records of the Black urban experience known today." Following the archive's purchase in 2001, the Museum has scanned more than 60,000 images, and a good chunk of these have been catalogued and are available to look at online.
If you want a short primer, you can listen to the NPR story below, which discusses Harris' work and his photographic legacy.
The majority of Harris' professional career was spent working as a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, and the newspaper's offices feature prominently in many of Harris' images. I've included a few choice images below, which provide a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day running and everyday comings and goings of a mid-century Black newspaper plant. Treat yourself and have a look through the Harris collections yourself via the Carnegie Museum's online catalogue.
Toki Schalk Johnson posing at the Pittsburgh Courier office, Carnegie Museum of Art
Boxer Joe Louis practicing putting at the Pittsburgh Courier, 1946. Carnegie Museum of Art
Photographer Gordon Parks at the Pittsburgh Courier plant, 1946. Carnegie Museum of Art
More details about the inside of the redeveloped Ebony/Jet building at 820 South Michigan Avenue have started to come out following its transformation into condominiums last year. The videos below offer brief tours of one and two-bedroom condos which are now available in addition to studio apartments.
The interiors of the building are completely unrecognisable from the heydey as the epicenter of the Johnson Publishing empire following the building's opening during the early 1970s. Its also disappointing to hear that the building's history is completely ignored in these video tours.