Marquette Front Street c 1909, photo by Lycurgus S. Glover (Detroit Publishing Co)
The Shorpy Photo Archive is a magical website that has been around for years, dishing up incredible and well presented public domain photos from around the country. Many, like this one of Main Street in Marquette from 1909, are from Michigan. In addition to a link to purchase a print of the photo, all include a giant view of the image and a discussion board that uncovers many of the details that become apparent when you look at the picture closely such as this odd detail in the lower right:
“Why is there a wooden platform behind him leading to a blank wall?”
The wooden platform is actually a bridge over a set of railroad tracks that lead out to cranes for unloading coal in the Marquette Harbor. The wall is for safety as it was a 16′ drop down to the tracks. See attached links for different view of Front Street and the City of Marquette around that time. You can see the same wood bridge in one and the cranes in the other. Also you can see the ore docks that gravity load iron ore into ore boats to take the iron ore to Pittsburgh. Iron mining was and still is a big business in Marquette County. The photo in question was taken standing on the a steel bridge leading to the old ore dock that can be seen in the attached photos.
Click through to check the photo out background bigtacular. As one commenter notes, “It’s noon by the building clock, and the locals are mobbing the ice cream parlor.”