As I’m continuing to browse through the old photos at the Library of Congress, the picture above is a view I found of Main Street in Buffalo, dated 1904. This is the same area as yesterday’s photo, but the building with the flag, the William Hengerer Company store, is six stories tall rather than nine. Here’s yesterday’s undated photo for comparison:
When the building was “modernized” – i.e., the facade was stripped of most of its ornament – in the 1950s, it was seven stories tall. Neither of the photos above looks altered, and certainly not altered with the primitive techniques available before air-brushing was invented. Scenario one, people in the past are messing with me by altering the photos, is therefore unlikely.
Scenario two: up and down. The building was constructed in 1903 as six stories, was expanded sometime not long after, and then was shortened some time after that. The other photo from yesterday was an undated postcard and also shows a six-story building:
I thought this came after the nine-story photo, but maybe it came before.
Scenario three is even weirder: up and down and up. It was built as six stories in 1903, expanded to nine, shortened to six, and then expanded to seven during the modernization.
In any case, this is a good example of why location is so important. I don’t know where the best places to look for Buffalo records might be, although I have a few guesses, so trying to make sense of this would be more difficult for me than is worth pursuing. With a building in NYC, I could narrow down the possibilities much faster. In other words, if you’re going to do research in a specific locality, you need to learn the details of researching there.