Bowling, 1861

“Group of people bowling on a wooden lane erected in a yard,” July 4, 1861, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

I just found this photo. It was taken exactly one year before yesterday’s picture, probably by James Hunter,* who would host the 1862 picnic.

The Library’s online catalogue says that “Mrs. H. Bowling and Coleman Sellers, Jr.,” have been identified in this image, although it doesn’t say where they are — probably the woman bowling (Mrs. H., bowling†) and perhaps the boy in charge of setting up the pins.

The full stereograph. I do hope they removed the baby from the lane before she bowled.

“By the mid-1800s, the game of ninepins was so popular that wealthy families installed bowling lanes at their estates. . . , ” according to American Profile. “When some states outlawed ninepins [in the 1830s and 40s] because it encouraged gambling, the modern game of tenpins evolved to skirt the laws.” I’m not sure if there are nine pins in this picture or ten. What looks like one middle pin may be two pins lined up.

The image is part of the Charles F. Himes collection of stereographs by amateur photographers, primarily members of the Pennsylvania Photographic Society (1860-61) and the Amateur Photographic Exchange Club (1861-63).

*James Hunter may have been co-owner of the Print and Dye Works in Hestonville, Pennsylvania.

†H. for Hunter? Coleman Junior’s father was Coleman Sellers II, a prominent engineer and inventor from Philadelphia. — as well as an amateur photographer.

Life in gardens: tree swing

Blue Gums, Sydney, Powerhouse MuseumBlue gums,” probably in the Riverina area of New South Wales, Australia, ca. 1900, by Charles Kerry & Co., via Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum Commons on flickr.

Despite the original label, the large trees are “probably river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis),” according to a note about the photo by the Museum.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Vintage landscape: the Wizard Tree

Wizard Tree, Library of CongressThe Wizard tree, Cathedral Woods, Intervale, New Hampshire, ca. 1900, a photochrom by Detroit Photographic Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

According to the blog Cow Hampshire, this tree — a birch — “became one of the most frequently photographed and promoted trees in New Hampshire” by 1904.  Its story is here.

Today, the last Friday in April, is Arbor Day in much of the United States.

Here in Germany, we will celebrate Tag des Baumes tomorrow, April 25.

Vintage landscape: Meridian Hill Park

Orpheus with his lute made trees. . .*

Vintage landscape/enclos*ure: Meridian Hill Park, D.C., 1976, via Library of CongressThe Linden Walk, Meridian Hill Park,* Washington, D.C., August 1976, by Jack Boucher for an Historical American Buildings Survey (HABS), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This HABS has photos from 1976 and 1985. The report, which contains a very detailed description and history of the park’s design, was completed in 1987.

Unfortunately, the report notes that the linden trees shown above had to be cut down between 1976 and 1985 because they were threatening the 16th St. retaining wall (on the right side). They were replaced quickly, however, as you can see here.

The HABS report summarizes the importance of Meridian Hill Park this way:

One of the first public parks in the United States to be designed as a formal park, generally considered to be in the continental tradition, rather than in the “natural” mode associated with the English park; Meridian Hill Park was constructed [from about 1914 to 1936]. . . . Under the guidance of the Commission of Fine Arts, the park benefited from the finest criticism of the day. The technologically innovative use of exposed aggregate concrete provided a facsimile of the stone and mosaic masonry traditionally employed in the Italian Garden. The Park represents an effort in a democratic society to match the major European city park.

Today, the last Friday in April, is Arbor Day in many states in the U.S. The day was established to encourage people to plant and care for trees.

The words themselves are a delight to learn,
You might be in a foreign land of terms
Like samara, capsule, drupe, legume and pome,
Where bark is papery, plated, warty or smooth.

Howard Nemerov, from “Learning the Trees

*Meridian Hill Park is bounded by Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Euclid and W Streets, N.W.  The quote above the photo is by William Shakespeare, from Henry VIII.