Old Rockford Photos

I’ve been keeping a stack of Rockford books on my desk. I page through them almost daily, looking for images that might spark the next idea. I mark them with post-its. Who knows what will eventually find its way into the novel?

Some of these photos are simply funny to me, like this one of “the Beefsteak Club.”

Apparently this was a “group of young married men of means” that included “some of the most influential men in the city” who gathered to grill out and play baseball. The Beefsteak Club.

Other images give me ideas for scene settings, like this 1906 photo from an amusement park, complete with wooden roller coasters, that apparently existed in Rockford?! It was called Harlem Park and was open from 1890 to 1928.

I’ve bookmarked several photos of buildings that no longer exist. Some were destroyed by fires, many more were razed in the sixties and seventies. This image of the Forest City Knitting Co. factory is one of my favorites.

I know this knitting factory belongs in the novel, I just don’t know what it means yet…

Same with the National Guard Armory, which was a Public Works project completed in 1937.

This one is still around, sitting empty. Here’s what it looks like on Google Street View.

Then there are other images that have whole stories inside of them.

This is a postcard from Annette in Rockford to Edna in Michigan, sent in November of 1907. “You surely must come for I am waiting for you,” Annette wrote.

Did Edna come to Rockford? I hope so.

These photos of photos are all from Eric A. Johnson’s Rockford: 1900-World War I.