As I was writing up yesterday’s Mystery Monday post, I was reminded of the single, most consuming mystery I’ve ever had. It started when I first started going through the boxes of treasures/photographs/papers. When I first started scanning the photographs into my computer, I just labeled them UnknownMooreThorward-01 and so on. Funny enough, years after solving this mystery and they’re still named that.
This is the photo that launched the hours, months, years of frustration. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a tiny bit. It did take me years to solve this though. I would pick it up every few months and try again. I don’t know why I was so struck by this picture. I was just so curious about this building.
At one of our reunions, I brought the picture up on my laptop and asked around. Many members of my family chimed in. No one really knew where it was though. We dissected it many times. We were analyzing the routes that the cars were taking. My father thought he saw a crane in the back and chimed in that it was probably a temporary structure. I scoffed at that! Who would tear that kind of building down! That was nonsense!
A few months later I stumbled upon this photograph among the others. This one doesn’t show the structure very well, but it gives a bit more detail among the pillars. This one was taken on a different day I think. Here you can see something draped between the pillars and you can see what looks like balloons!
This set our family on all new tangents. My Aunt even showed the picture to some of her customers and got their input. We researched everything from European architecture to the Sesqui-centennial celebration of 1926 in Philadelphia. I went so far as to order a program on eBay from the event and even emailed the Boston Historic Society! No stone was unturned. Then one day I found a genealogy community online. I decided why not see what happens and I posted the first picture. In a twist of fate that is very common to me, someone posted back within a few hours!
This may sound silly and redundant, but have you checked out Victory Arches?
Silly me, I didn’t even know what a victory arch was! So I quickly put my Google-fu to the test! Here’s a simple Google Image search of Victory Arches. Holy canoli, I was back on track!
I was eventually led to an expired eBay auction for this item. In fact, if you search for it today, there are even more images now! It turns out my structure was an Arch of Victory that was erected to welcome the troops home from WWI.
Arch of Victory at Madison Square, New York City, with men of the Twenty-seventh (New York) Division marching in a victory parade that was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators. The city turned out in masse to do them honor, and they received a tremendous ovation along the line of march. The avenue was packed from buildings to curbs.
This is why I love the internet. It took two years, and many hours of research for this huge family mystery to be solved by one poster on an internet message board. We spent many a hour at reunions discussing what this structure could be. My Dad always maintained that it was probably temporary. Well, you can bet he had bragging rights for a long time on this one!
It’s funny how different the street looks today, yet it still looks the same. I don’t know if you can tell from the size of the images but the buildings from the original photograph seem to all still be standing and look almost exactly the same!
I love to torture myself now. Sure one mystery was solved but that leads to more questions! Was my family in the hundreds of thousands of people welcoming the troops home? Were any of my relatives one of the troops being welcomed home? Gosh I love a good story!