The Bank of Galesburg

The Bank of Galseburg

Anonymous photographer

The Bank of Galesburg

circa 1914


Galesburg Civic Art Center Permanent Collection

This photograph depicts the bank building that formerly stood on the southeast corner of Main and Kellogg Streets (the building was demolished in 1992). It also provides a view of the site before the Orpheum Theatre was constructed a year later. This is an example of early amateur photography that was a rising trend in American culture with advancements in technology and the increasing affordability of cameras. Photography allowed common Americans to act as citizen spectators, documenting scenes of local civic life. These personal observations actually serve as important visual records of regional history and the socio-economic development of a community. The photograph shows the newly expanded bank, which added two additional stories in 1911. The imposing structure and its prominent placement reflects the growing financial prosperity of Galesburg in the 1910s, which was due to the town’s thriving commercial railway system. This photograph also records the early appearance of automobiles and electric street lights, capturing signs of modern technological and industrial change in rural small-town America.

Paulina Dickson