1916 Postcard Shows Human Fly Scaling Kalamazoo’s Edwards and Chamberlin Hardware Store In
Jack Williams, also known as the "Human Fly" in the early 1920s made a name for himself climbing many tall buildings all throughout the country. Very little can be found on the man, but his accomplishments are not only impressive but, personally, give me chills. I'm not the craziest person about heights, to begin with, but climbing tall buildings without a harness gives me the chills I don't want. Regardless, it was an amazing talent and sight to see. So much so that Kalamazoo apparently decided to make a postcard of him climbing one of our buildings:
This interesting 1916 view shows "human fly" Jack Williams climbing the Edwards and Chamberlin Hardware Store at Main and Portage Streets. It is one of a series of real photo cards I have of the event. Williams was hired by the Kalamazoo Gazette to climb the six-story building free of any ropes or other equipment as part of the 1916 Kalamazoo County Fair. He climbed this building in the afternoon as a warmup to climbing the ten-story Hanselman Building in the evening. The Hanselman is long gone, but the Edwards and Chamberlin building still stands.
The original publisher noted that the photo in the image is actually reversed for some reason. This must have been an exciting thing to see in person, but over 100 years later we have our own Kalamazoo Spiderman. He doesn't do any of the death-defying acts like Mr. Williams but is constantly doing fun appearances for kids. That's good enough for us.
Colorized Pictures of Early Kalamazoo That Will Blow Your Mind