Downtown Hammond in the 1930s....

  Hammond, Indiana had always been a regional shopping destination for residents of northwest Indiana. With the onset of the automobile adding to the public transportation offered by streetcars, the number of shoppers expanded and with it, the number of retail stores along Hohman Avenue and on State Street.  


On the east side of Hohman near Sibley, The site of the W.T.Grant Five & Time store became  the location for several retail stores.



  Corner of State Street and Hohman Avenue, looking southeast. The corner bank building with the round turret on the second floor is easily identified throughout the photo history of Downtown Hammond. Just to the right (above the head of the police officer) is the three-story Majestic Hotel. The hanging street sign promoting "Hammond Beer" was a regular beverage for the established community of German immigrants.  




The photo on the left was taken by O.W. Bodie from the fourth floor of the Indiana Hotel looking east on State Street towards Hohman Avenue, where Bodie had his photo studio.  Bodie was concerned with the traffic jams that resulted from the criss-cross of railroad lines in downtown Hammond, a common source of public complaining and aggravation with the downtown shopping district.

Eventually, albeit too late, the City of Hammond built overpasses to the railroad lines that ended up gutting the remaining retail stores. With all of the new construction, no one wanted to shop downtown Hammond when they could go to the new Woodmar Shopping Center and avoid the congestion.


(Source: O.W. Bodie, collection of plate glass negatives, Calumet Archives, Indiana University Northwest, Gary, Indiana)





However, there is another social component that results from the traffic jams caused by the railroads as seen in the enlargement of the Bodie photo. Here you can see that the pushcart vendor has left his cart in the middle of State Street and is walking east toward Hohman Avenue.  Meanwhile, drivers are seen getting out of their cars and use the time to visit with friends and acquaintances who are also stopped in traffic. The Walgreen's delivery truck at center left uses the opportunity to make deliveries without fear of being run down by other cars and trucks.  Thus the traffic jams that people complained about may have served a social function by building a sense of community and consensus during the 1930s.  This social interaction disappeared when railroads no longer halted traffic and gave people a chance to visit with one another.

This unique photo also shows both the Hammond streetcar and the presence of a city bus, the passing in history from one form of transportation to another.


This image is taken in 1933 from "Broken Corner" looking north on Hohman Avenue. It is from a colorized photograph converted to black and white
primarily for visual effect.  Goldblatt's has yet to buy Kaufman and Wolf, the large department store. The Lake County Superior Courthouse
is seen on the left. This was a popular spot for taking pictures of downtown Hammond and pictures were edited, colored and enhanced.
Picture postcards were used to promote cities and tourist spots around the world.


This high resolution photo from the 1930s has been used on colored post cards but here is the original before it was
edited and colored by hand. Great detail of older automobiles make Hohman Avenue appear to be wider. In reality
these cars were smaller in width.  The speed limit on Hohman Avenue was 20 mph. The Parthenon Theater, down the street, 
has added its large vertical sign to match that of Goldblatts Department Store.

Billed as the largest retail store in Indiana, this four-story building by Kaufman & Wolf
filled a full block in downtown Hammond on Hohman Avenue.
This 1931 high resolution photo was taken with a wide-angle lens shortly after construction.
It was later purchased by the Goldblatt brothers of Chicago and remained a landmark for the City of Hammond.


  Looking north from broken corner. This is a Bodie photo taken from a glass plate negative. You can see how the emulsion separates from the glass plate. Source: IUN Archives   Same photo taken in the 40s as the one to the left. Kaufman and Wolf sign has been replaced by Goldblatts. Source: Unidentified  


The Goldblatt Brothers of Chicago have completed purchase of Kaufman & Wolf and quickly becomes the retail anchor
for downtown Hammond shoppers.


A woman crosses Hohman Avenue on her way to Goldblatts. Trolly tracks have been removed
as the downtown Hammond area continues to grow. Walgreen has moved from the main floor corner
of the Indiana Hotel to its final location on the NW corner of Hohman and Sibley.


Looking south from Broken Corner, the Merchantile Bank, Montgomery Ward, NIPSCO and the Paramount Theater sign.
All icons of Hohman Avenue in Hammond, Indiana during the late 30s.

Another view of the east side of Hohman showing the NIPSCO building.
Work begins to remove the streetcar tracks from Hohman Avenue.
Photograph is taken looking north on Hohman Avenue near Broken Corner.

  Another photo by O.W. Bodie, looking north on Hohman Avenue past the Indiana Hotel. Bodie was fond of climbing to the roof of the hotel and taking pictures from angles and from places seldom visited by others. A train has just passed and traffic is resuming on its north/south trek.  The intersection of the two railroad tracks was referred to as "the Diamond."  Ferree Furniture, Moving and Storage can be seen center right. The intersections of railroad tracks required careful timing by the various railroad companies moving freight through downtown Hammond, Indiana. (1938 Photo)  




This high resolution photo from the early 1930's, looks West on State Street at Oakley. The building on the right is the US Courthouse, later to become known to most of us as "the downtown Post Office."  It was recently purchased by First Baptist Church who controls most of the property along State Street. The building in the center of the picture is the "Minas Furniture Company."  But it is NOT related to the E.C. Minas Company. E.C. Minas Company sued for infringement upon the Minas name and won but the building mysteriously caught fire and burned to the ground.



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These images and the web pages are maintained by Richard Barnes, HHS'59.

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