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The Virtual Mitchell
February 3, 2010 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Glasgow's Mitchell Library, designed by William B. Whitie, is the largest reference library in Western Europe. Over the past decade, it has been digitising its collection of photographs, which has resulted in the Virtual Mitchell, an unrivalled collection of photographs of Glasgow which covers the last 150-odd years of the city's history. The photographs can be searched by area, street or subject, all of which provide a fascinating insight into life in Glasgow over the past century and a half. Some examples: Charing Cross, 1950s; 1975; The Mitchell Library, 1910; Meadowside Shipyard, circa 1930; New Astoria Cinema, Possilpark; Royal Exchange Square, 1868; Alexander "Greek" Thompson's church on Caledonia Road; East End children in class in 1916
posted by Len (14 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
My flat is visible in this one. No trams outside though.
posted by multivalent at 4:36 PM on February 3, 2010


This is really interesting, it's certainly going in my bookmarks.
posted by selton at 4:37 PM on February 3, 2010


Wow. This is the kind of thing I come to MeFi hoping to find. Many thanks!
posted by languagehat at 5:35 PM on February 3, 2010


I learnt to not-swim here. It was pretty rancid in the 1980s. I also lived near this. And Short's Pies!
posted by scruss at 5:35 PM on February 3, 2010


Nice one Len. I'll stand and raise a glass to piping in the haggis.
posted by tellurian at 5:38 PM on February 3, 2010


My great-aunt lived above the bank here, where she had terrorized legions of trainee bank tellers. Sad; lived a spinster all her life - her boyfriend died in the first weeks of the war, and we only found out when she was in her 80s and only sometimes lucid.

I remember Glasgow looking a lot like some of the pictures from the 1930s-50s, even though I grew up in the 70s. Some of the soon-to-be-demolished (bombed out?) houses were still standing. Glasgow's all hip now. Go figure.
posted by scruss at 5:45 PM on February 3, 2010


I had an embarrassing moment in the Mitchell once when I tried to check out a book - no one had told me it was reference only. This is fantastic, thanks!
posted by dual_action at 6:20 PM on February 3, 2010


I hate the watermarking. Man is that annoying. Not sure I get the point either.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:57 PM on February 3, 2010


cjorgensen, we don't really do public domain in the UK. The library charges about five quid for a print.
posted by scruss at 7:20 PM on February 3, 2010


Yeah scruss, I can imagine Govanhill public baths were a bit scummy. They're trying to restore it at the moment. It's potentially a beautiful space.
posted by multivalent at 7:49 PM on February 3, 2010


I hate the watermarking. Man is that annoying
Yeah, it is indeed; they've only started doing that recently – when I first came across the site, 5 or 6 years ago (and I have been meaning to post it to MeFi for that long!) there were no watermarks.

As for Govanhill baths, I remember the protests over its closure; glad to hear that people are trying to raise funds for its reopening. And even though I didn't move to Glasgow until the mid-90s, I'd been visiting there since I was a young kid in the late 70s, and like scruss, I suppose, remember it looking grimy and old; wasn't until the mid to late 80s that a lot of the city's buildings had a century's worth of grime sandblasted off of them.
posted by Len at 8:02 PM on February 3, 2010


the largest reference library in Western Europe

Not by a long way. The wikilink states that it has over a million volumes: the British Library has 25 million; the Bibliotheque Nationale is not far behind; many other state and university lbraries are also far larger.

The wikilink actually says that it's the largest public library in Western Europe, but even that's drawing a dubious distinction between the kinds of libraries I've mentioned and large civic libraries. One can debate the meaning of 'public', I suppose.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 11:46 PM on February 3, 2010


remember it looking grimy and old; wasn't until the mid to late 80s that a lot of the city's buildings had a century's worth of grime sandblasted off of them.



glasgow is the grime, its sad to see it be taken over by quirky sandwich shop owners. It's like the difference in atmosphere at the old jungle and the well behaved plastic monstrosity erected in its place. The Glasgow of the Barras was always better than the Glasgow of the secc. etc etc blah.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2010


When I was there, multivalent, the cockroaches could swim quicker than we could. It was once closed with an amoeba infestation. But it is a beautiful space.
posted by scruss at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


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