Street Scenes: Cropping Into History

On Fifth Avenue: A cropped image, c. 1900. (See Full Size Image Here.)

I spend a lot of time looking through visual archives to find images to use in my research and my design work. One of my favorite archives to peruse is the Library of Congress (LOC). The LOC happens to hold one the best collections of American images: roughly 25,000 glass negatives and transparencies made by the Detroit Publishing Company (DPC).

5th Avenue at 59th Street, looking North, c. 1900 (See Full Size Image Here)

The DPC was founded c. 1880 by William A. Livingstone and photographer Edwin H. Husher. It was a publisher of a variety of popular image formats, including stereographs and postcards. The company hired photographers to document the American scene and also a variety of countries outside the U.S. Specializing in city views, parks, monuments, etc., the DPC amassed a vast collection of high quality images spanning the years of the company’s operations, c. 1880-1932.

In 2010, the LOC scanned approximately 22,000 images of the DPC collection at high resolution. The result: an amazing chance to peer into the past. These incredibly high quality images offer viewers a means to look at a spectrum of detail from the images.

I often crop images in search of detail. It feels as if I am entering into history by doing this. By cropping an image, one can enlarge smaller segments of the image in utterly dazzling detail: facial expressions, clothing, movement, and the very essence of the city comes alive.

So here is just a sampling of cropped history, NYC style. (Nearly all images are created by DPC).

5th Avenue and 59th Street (See Full Size Image Here)
Manhattan, Entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, 1905
5th Avenue and 59th Street (See Full Size Image Here)
5th Avenue (See Full Size Image Here.)
5th Avenue
5th Avenue and 42nd Street
5th Avenue near the 59th Street Entrance to Central Park
5th Avenue at 33rd Street
broadway and canalBroadway and Canal
Newsstand, 1903.(And below)  See Full Size Image Here.
5th Avenue and West 27th Street
Mott Street, See Full Size Image Here
Flower Vendor, Easter, 1904
West 27th and 5th Avenue. See Full Size Image Here.

~Jenny Thompson



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