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Blowing off the dust: Minneapolis lets you browse newly digitized historic photos

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It turns out there were some interesting things buried in Minneapolis's dusty old photo archive.

The city set out this summer to dig up historic pictures and digitize them, and now they're online for all to browse on the Minneapolis Archive Flickr page – and the collection is growing, according to a news release.

Many of the photos date back to the 1800s and show Minneapolis as a young and bustling city, long before it sprouted its trademark skyscrapers.

A couple of choice examples below show a busy urban intersection in the early 20th Century, and an early version of the Lowry Avenue Bridge.

For some comparison, here's what the Lowry Avenue Bridge looks like today:

Then the photos take a decidedly unexpected turn – into late 50s fire safety demonstrations that include everything from nuns and clowns to beauty queens, as the Star Tribune points out.

The paper picks the seven "weirdest" from the collection for your browsing convenience.

The digitization project was undertaken by the Minneapolis City Clerk’s Office, which got help from Urban Scholars summer interns, the city says.

They're welcoming viewers to comment on the pictures and share any knowledge they might have in the hopes of adding some "historical context" to the images.

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