Tag Archives: vintage photographs

Picturing D.C. (year by year)

"Photographers shooting cherry blossoms, Washington D.C., April 7, 1922," by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

“Photographers shooting cherry blossoms, Washington D.C., April 7, 1922,” by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

I want to share my recent discovery of D.C. Past, a tumblr blog that is “curating the photographic history” of Washington, D.C.

Kate Birmingham and Guillermo Esteves choose 19th and 20th century photos from the online catalogues of the Library of Congress and the National Archives.  However, when shown on D.C. Past, the images are generally much larger and (pretty darn) sharp.

I love this early shot, below, of the Lincoln Memorial — the Reflecting Pool is still only a wetland.

"Lincoln Memorial with Marsh in foreground," 1917, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

“Lincoln Memorial with marsh in foreground,” 1917, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

Four years later. . .

"Lincoln Memorial from Monument," May 30, 1922, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

“Lincoln Memorial from Monument,” May 30, 1922, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

You’ll have to go to D.C. Past, here and here, for the “much larger” part.

I like these swimmers below too.  They’re in the Tidal Basin.  And yesterday’s post was interesting — look at the (lack of) height of the fence.

"Bathing Beach,"  Washington, D.C., Tidal Basin, ca. 1912-1930, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs  Division.

“Bathing Beach,” Washington, D.C., Tidal Basin, ca. 1912-1930, by National Photo Company, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and D.C. Past.

(A link to the photo at the top is here.)

D.C. Past is still rather new; its first picture was posted in March 2013.  But this makes it easy to catch up and get hooked.

There is also a NYC Past here and a Chicago Past here.

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Filed under American gardens, architecture, culture and history, design, landscape, life in gardens, vintage landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens

Wordless Wednesday: the lamps


Vintage photo: “Bethlehem Church of the Nativity. Dark interior lit by sun rays” Taken c. 1925-1946 by the American Colony of Jerusalem.  Photo via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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Filed under architecture, art, design, vintage landscape

Wildflowers by the American Colony

While looking through the online catalogue of the Library of Congress for photos of gardens and landscapes, I keep coming across pictures by the American Colony of Jerusalem.

Golden Gate and east wall of Jerusalem seen through group of century plants [agave], c. 1900-1920, by the American Colony, via Library of Congress.

The American Colony was a Christian utopian society established in Jerusalem in 1881 by Americans Anna and Horatio Spafford. Its whole story is very interesting, but long, so you can read about it here and here and here.

Around 1898, a member of the colony, Elijah Meyers, began photographing places and events around the region and eventually formed a photography service that earned income for the group. He was later joined in the endeavor by Lewis Larsson and G. Eric Matson, among others. When the colony dissolved in the early 1930s, Matson and his wife took over the studio and its archives and renamed it the Matson Photo Service.

Wild flowers of Palestine.  Flowers, c. 1898-1946.

Matson moved to California in 1946.   He  began donating negatives and contact sheets to the Library of Congress in the 1960s.

Among the over 20,000 images in the Matson Collection are about 200 photos of “wild flowers of Palestine.” In 1907, the Colony had published The Plants of the Bible and, in 1912, The Jerusalem Catalogue of Palestine Plants.  The group also sold photographs and stereographs from its Jerusalem store and contributed pictures to National Geographic articles.

Wood-mallow (Malva sylvestris L.), c. 1900-1920.

The photos that I’ve chosen are best seen in a larger size, so please click on the first thumbnail below to scroll though them.  The plant names come from the images’ original labels.

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Vintage landscape: an earlier March

Sheep grazed on the White House lawn during the Wilson administration (1913-1921) as part of an effort to cut down on groundskeeping costs (and here and here).  The photo above was taken by Harris & Ewing. Since there are lambs, I believe this is early spring.

The below photos were taken by the National Photo Company (all images via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division).

Earlier, from 1910 to 1913, President Taft’s cow, Pauline, had grazed on the lawn. She is shown here in front of the Old Executive Office Building, then the State, War, and Navy Building.

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Filed under American gardens, culture and history, landscape, nature, vintage landscape, Washington, D.C., gardens