Friday, April 30, 2021

What's NOT in the Picture?

This week, my wonderful husband used Google Street View to "look" at different parts of his old neighborhood in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. We've used Street View before, mostly looking at family homes and schools. This time, he explored further from his childhood home.

He remembered a line of sturdy brick storefronts, similar to the stock photo above, within walking distance from where he grew up.

He was shocked when he saw what the area looks like today.

No stores along what used to be a busy shopping street. No drug store, no record store, no movie theater, no hair salon, no deli. 

These favorite places from his past had been completely demolished.  

Reconstructing the past

Seeing the dramatic changes to that street caused him to reach back into his memory bank and mentally reconstruct the line of stores that once stood there.

In his mind's eye, he could see the entire block and tell me exactly what was gone. He remembered funny stories from his first after-school job at the drug store. He recalled buying albums at the record store, snacking at the deli, taking dates to the movies. He even summoned up the names of friends who worked at some of these businesses. 

He told me new stories as he mentally took a nostalgic and emotional walk down memory lane, one favorite place at a time.

Trying to spark memories

I haven't been quite as surprised using "Street View" to look at old neighborhoods in my hometown of New York City, maybe because it's the city that never sleeps. 

Still, I'm going to try exploring other favorite places from my childhood to see whether the changes spark new memories that I can discuss with relatives. What's NOT in the picture might stimulate fresh thinking about the past. 


"Favorite place" is this week's #52Ancestors prompt from Amy Johnson Crow.


  1. Thank you for sharing that. We occasionally go back to my husband's childhood haunts and that is when he will reminisce, otherwise no engagement with family history!

  2. Just occasionally, I've been able to find photos of old commercial neighborhoods in high school yearbooks from the area. For example, a Main Street restaurant would sponsor an ad in the local high school's yearbook and include a photo of the building in the ad.

  3. The few addresses that I know for sure for my Irish ancestors in Manhatten, Brooklyn, and the Bronx are now parking lots.