The flower seller: Amritsar

Selling flowers to Sikh pilgrims at the Golden Temple Amritsar, India, January 15, 1914, by Stéphane Passet, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine.

This autochrome is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker who was committed to the ideal of universal peace and who believed that “knowledge of foreign cultures encourages respect and peaceful relations between nations.”* He was also acutely aware that the 20th century was going to bring rapid material change to the world.

Accordingly, from 1909 to 1931, Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to 50 countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.’”† The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*Collections Albert-Kahn website. Also, the above photo (A 4 214) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.
†words of Albert Kahn, 1912.

Lisbon, Portugal

Rossio (or Pedro IV) Square, Lisbon, Portugal, ca. mid 20th c., by Estúdio Mário Novais, via Art Library of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Commons on flickr (under CC license).

The Rossio has been an important central Lisbon square since the 14th century. Rossio roughly means “commons.” Its current appearance, however, was formed in the mid (paving) and late (fountains and column) 1800s.

The distinctive paving — calçada Portuguesa — is made up of small irregular cobblestones of white limestone and black basalt.  In 1842, the governor of São Jorge Castle, Eusebio Furtado, set prisoners to work laying an unusual zigzag pattern on its parade ground. The effect was so popular that in 1848 Furtado was asked to use the same sort of design (and prisoners) on the Rossio Square.  After that, “Portuguese pavement” spread across the city and country and ultimately out to the colonies of Brazil and Macau.

Although beautiful, it’s said to be extremely slippery when wet.

Zion path

It’s National Trails Day.
Trail, Zion Natl Park, Utah, 1980s, Library of CongressDetail of the West Rim Trail, looking southwest, Zion National Park, Washington County, Utah, 1984, by Clayton B. Fraser, via Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The trail opened in 1926 and was paved in 1929 with oil mixed with sand and rock.  It was later repaved in concrete, most recently in 2007.

“Built of native stone and associated with the “National Park Service-Rustic” architectural style, the West Rim Trail possesses architectural integrity,” says the Record.  “Rock used in the masonry switchback walls was quarried locally and shaped as little as possible to provide a rough appearance, yet stable construction.”  You can read more here.