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Author Topic: When MOST Homes Had Radio Antennas  (Read 14707 times)
K0OD
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Posts: 3030




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« on: June 02, 2015, 09:44:03 PM »

I love the ultra high definition photography featured on Shorpy.com. Many shots used huge glass plate negatives able to capture spectacular detail. The following enlargements were from a time when AM radios still required an outside antenna. By about 1936, better models commonly included at least one shortwave band. Likely none of these antennas were ham.   

Can you spot the dipole near the top of this wonderful 1937 pic? 
http://www.shorpy.com/node/14725?size=_original

Quite an array atop this multipurpose building in Montana in 1942
http://www.shorpy.com/node/14384?size=_original

This corner market in 1932 probably shared the building with the owner's upstairs living quarters:
http://www.shorpy.com/node/5805?size=_original#caption

Lt Col Leslie MacDill died in this 1938 Washington DC plane crash. McDill AFB was named after him. Notice the rooftop antenna on the house in back:
http://www.shorpy.com/node/6496?size=_original#caption

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W6BP
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2015, 10:32:09 PM »

There are at least two antennas in this one:

http://www.shorpy.com/dillon-montana?size=_original#caption

And this below-ground home has a dipole in the background, fed by what appears to be open-line feeder of some type:

http://www.shorpy.com/node/1536?size=_original#caption

I love the photos on Shorpy.  It's amazing how many pixels there are on a 4-by-5 or 8-by-10 plate.
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K0OD
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 12:00:14 AM »

8X10 inch glass plates must have cost a fortune.... one reason this back view of a NYC tenement on "washday" is so extraordinary. What motivated the photographer to capture this scene that was so mundane for its era? Date is estimated to be 1900-1910 which makes sense given the absence of rooftop antennas. We can see why so many antennas were allowed by the 1920s.

At least 3 women can be spotted "resonating" their lines. 
http://www.shorpy.com/node/4397?size=_original#caption
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K4NYA
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 07:43:22 AM »

As a student of photography, I can make a guess at what prompted him/her to take that photo: the leading lines created by the hanging laundry.
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KAPT4560
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 10:49:32 AM »

 Longwires were king when AM and SW were the main modes. Yagis showed up after the war for the new FM and TV bands.
 My house was built in 1910 with an addition put on in 1950. It is a hodge-podge of history with mains wiring, telephone and gas utilities from different eras. Some have been updated and some have not. There is always something for me to do around here.  Grin
 I was working above the semi-finished attic ceiling one day cleaning up debris from a re-roof and noticed a stranded, copper longwire just below the peak of the roof. I located where the end terminated behind a wall at a coupling with a PHILCO tradename on it.
 I decided to put the longwire back to use and brought up my old PHILCO 37-610 to listen to. Actually I am above a lot of RFI and ambient noise in the attic and enjoy listening as someone else did some decades ago.
 Those Shorpy images of days gone by are absolutely wonderful.
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KC9YTJ
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2015, 11:46:45 AM »

When working in attics of older homes, putting in air conditioning in the Kokomo, IN area over 40 years ago, we used to find old wire antennae strung up under the roof joists all the time.  Some of them were probably still in use Smiley
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KJ6ZOL
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2015, 01:38:42 PM »

I've heard that people would hang wires out the windows of their apartments. Apparently, B-list stars in Hollywood all had wires hanging from their apt windows. Being a radio geek was cool then.  Grin Grin Up here in Sacramento we don't have that many old homes, so the chances of finding something cool like that is low. HOWEVER, when I was living in a rooming house downtown that was once a cheap motel, I noticed a "blank" plug box cover on one wall. I took it off and lo and behold there was a piece of 300 ohm twinlead that likely had been used for TV or radio reception in the rooms. So, I hooked it to my TV. It worked better than my Rat Shack brand rabbit ears.  Grin Grin
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KJ6ZOL
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2015, 01:41:15 PM »

Longwires were king when AM and SW were the main modes. Yagis showed up after the war for the new FM and TV bands.
 My house was built in 1910 with an addition put on in 1950. It is a hodge-podge of history with mains wiring, telephone and gas utilities from different eras. Some have been updated and some have not. There is always something for me to do around here.  Grin
 I was working above the semi-finished attic ceiling one day cleaning up debris from a re-roof and noticed a stranded, copper longwire just below the peak of the roof. I located where the end terminated behind a wall at a coupling with a PHILCO tradename on it.
 I decided to put the longwire back to use and brought up my old PHILCO 37-610 to listen to. Actually I am above a lot of RFI and ambient noise in the attic and enjoy listening as someone else did some decades ago.
 Those Shorpy images of days gone by are absolutely wonderful.

Some people would have shortwave radios up in their attics, for the reasons you mentioned, and would string up longwire for antennas.
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N0YXB
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2015, 02:31:36 PM »

Awesome images, thanks for sharing.
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K2CPE
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2015, 06:03:34 AM »

My home (built by my parents in 1939) was built with an an approx 40' longwire antenna near the roof peak in the attic. I've occasionally made ssb contacts with it using my K2 autotuner to load it, with a random length counterpoise wire on floor of attic. But outside wire antennas work better. Works OK for casual listening though.

Rich  K2CPE
K2 #1102
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K0OD
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« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2015, 07:41:53 AM »

What did these buildings look like after the arrival of BCB radio in 1921? Here's a similar building in December 1936:

http://www.shorpy.com/node/14975?size=_original#caption

Note this comment provided by a Shorpy member:
"My aunt & grandmother lived in the LaReine apartments on Connecticut Ave, Washington, very
near Chevy Chase Circle [built very late 1920s]. Each apartment had its own ++AM++ antenna on
the roof with a cable to an outlet in the living room. There were frames on the roof with the antennas
 strung between them, as in this Shorpy photo."
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KU2US
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« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2015, 06:53:59 AM »

I am a Real Estate Appraiser and I have been inside thousands of homes in my career. Many of these homes were built 1920's-1940's. One thing I noticed, and look for, is a long copper wire connected between two ceramic insulators, located in the attic, hung on the ceiling! I realized first off what these were-AM broadcast band long wire antenna's! These were placed right after the home was built! I would estimate that approx. 90% of the homes I inspected have these. They would run a feed line from the antenna, through the floor and walls. The feed line terminated in the living room on the first floor, and was connected to the old floor model radios.  As we all know, radio's of the day did not have built in AM loop antennas. I have fun pointing these out to the owners, and I ask them what they thought this was. Some of the answers were hilarious! "clothes lines, electrical power wires, wall supports, lightning protector's" ! I explained that these were antenna's that were connected to radios where the folks in days gone by, would listen to the "fireside chats and broadcast programs". They were astonished! I told them to keep the wire in place-it was part of the personality of the home and a reminder of the past.
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PITSWL
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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2015, 01:13:31 PM »

These are some amazing pictures. Thank you for sharing!
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