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The Big Picture

New photo book gives Cleveland its close-up.

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It took a Chicago transplant to put together the definitive photographic document of our city. Margaret Baughman (along with Ron Burdick) compiled Historic Photos of Cleveland from the Cleveland Public Library’s vast collection of pictures, which were taken by hundreds of amateur and professional shutterbugs over the years. “We wanted photographs that had a lot of information in them,” says Baughman, who works with Burdick at the library. “People used to just jam the sidewalks during the day.”

The hefty book gathers more than 200 black-and-white pics shot in Cleveland between the mid-1800s and late 1900s. It includes everything from a serene Rockefeller Park to a bustling Euclid Avenue. “We looked at more than a million photographs,” says Baughman. “If we didn’t have a deadline, we’d still be looking. Most of these pictures were never seen before.” There are also plenty of shots that chronicle the city’s political, sports, and industrial scenes. Baughman says she and Burdick searched specifically for photos that had a direct “relationship to Cleveland’s history.” The former Chicagoan says she was knocked out by how active Cleveland used to be back in the day. “There were a lot of people downtown,” she says. “When I first came here seven years ago, it was lunchtime, and there was nobody around. I thought there was an air-raid drill.”
Wed., Aug. 22, 7 p.m.

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