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Then & Now

Photo courtesy Kearny Public Library

Photo courtesy Kearny Public Library

 

Photo by Karen Zautyk

Photo by Karen Zautyk

 

 

What makes this circa 1911 photo of Terrace Place at Midland Ave., Kearny, a bit more special than your usual street scene of houses and trees is, of course, that marvelous car and its dressed-to-drive occupants. Since we have not seen the actual original photo, we could be wrong, but we have a sneaky suspicion that this is a composite. We think the car was cut from another picture and pasted onto this one (an early version of Photoshop). You’d need a magnifying glass to see the details, but there seem to be thin, dark lines around portions of the auto image, and the wheels, especially the left rear, appear to not quite meet the pavement. Something else is not right: The vehicle is driving on the left side of the street. Yes, it has a right-hand drive steering wheel. (Early American cars might have either right- or left-hand drive.) But New Jersey had enacted a ‘keep right’ road law for wagons and such a century before, way back in 1813; it didn’t change when cars arrived. We guess the car image was pasted on the left side of the street so it wouldn’t block details of the homes across the way. But, again, we could be wrong about all of this. In which case, someone needs to give that guy a ticket.

– Karen Zautyk

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