Before and After Town Beautification

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:

Thursday, July 30, 1914: About the same as the other days.


1914-04-45 a

1914-04-45 b.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma did not write much a hundred years ago, I’m going to share another set of’  ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures that were in the April, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal. The title of the article was: “What was Done in Some Towns and What You And Do in Yours.”


1914-04-45 c

1914-04-45 d.



1914-04-45 e

.1914-04-45 f.

11 thoughts on “Before and After Town Beautification

  1. Love these photos
    The scene is remarkably similar to our town of Tramore, here in Ireland. We have an old railway house and square with a lovely row of terraced houses looking down over the railway. Such a pity the line closed in the 1960s.

  2. I think it’s interesting how judgmental the captions are–I need to pay more attention to the ways things are currently described. Are magazines till doing this?

  3. I love how the language has changed over the years. “A little agitation on the part of public-spirited citizens…” Hmmm….that’s one way to word it!

  4. But really we suffer now from the propensity they had then to often just tear things down in the name of progress. So many wonderful old buildings lost to decay and ruin in the earlier part of the 20th century. Nice to see in this pictures that sometimes things were preserved.

  5. One of my favorite pod-cast sites is NPR’s “Stuff You Should Know”. Two bright guys research and then discuss a broad range of topics and one they did recently was “Grass”. Huh? Yes, grass.

    People have not always had lawns. Josh and Chuck told me that the idea came to us in the nineteenth century when wealthy Americans visited their counterparts in England and found them cultivating lawns. The rest is history. The idea really took off after WW II as suburbs grew and various companies pushed the notion. Clearly, the Ladies Home Journal was doing their part. Everybody was keeping up with the Jones’s. The industry now, of course, is enormous. Billions and billions of dollars every year- water, sprinkler systems, fertilizer, pH kits, weed chemicals, mowers, trimmers, aching backs.

    Now, with climate change and drought, maybe we are on our way back to the old days. I hear that “hard-scaping” is trendy – think decorative rocks. 🙂

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