Sunday, January 27, 2008

William Morris Smith, The Chain Bridge

Shorpy has a wonderfully detailed picture of the Civil-War era Chain Bridge (view large for the full effect).

This photograph is from the Civil War collection of the Library of Congress.

Normandy Photographs

Here's a sample from the Normandy Collection on Flickr:
Normandy, June 6, 1944

My French is poor, but this photograph was taken by Robert Sargent of the U.S. Coast Guard at 7:30 on the morning of June 6, 1944. Here's the French caption from Flickr:

Photo prise par Robert F. Sargent, USCoast Guards (USCG)
Un LCVP manoeuvré par les U.S. Coast Guards et appartenant au U.S.S. Samuel Chase (APA 26) débarque ses troupes de la 1st Infantry Division (éléments du 1/16th IR)le matin du 6 Juin vers 7h30, à marée montante devant Le Ruquet, secteur Easy Red.(Saint Laurent/Colleville) vers 07H30.
Le char Sherman N°9 de la A Co du 741st Tank Bn équipé des Deep Wading Trunks (hottes de franchissement) est visible sur la plage.
Photo quasiment identique à la p011333

Update (5 March, 2013). From Google Translate:

Photo by Robert F. Sargent, USCoast Guards (USCG)
A LCVP operated by the U.S. Coast Guard and belonging to the USS Samuel Chase (APA 26) landed its troops from the 1st Infantry Division (1/16th items IR) on the morning of June 6 to 7:30 am, before the rising tide Ruquet, Easy Red sector. (Saint Laurent / Colleville) to 7:30.
The Sherman tank No. 9 of the A Co 741st Tank Bn equipped with Deep Wading Trunks (hood clearance) is visible on the beach.
Photo virtually identical to p011333

See more on Flickr:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jet Lowe in California

Los Angeles aqueduct

Jet Lowe, 2001, near Inyo/Bishop for HAER. Jawbone Canyon section of the Los Angeles aqueduct.

The Atlantic Monthly Now Free

Like the New York Times before it, the Atlantic Monthly has decided to stop charging for access to its online content, including much of its archives. Now, cheapskates like me can browse through back issues and archives dating back to 1857.

The first interviews I looked up are with some of my favorite authors:
Howard Frank Mosher, Annie Proulx, John Irving, and Vikram Seth.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Frank Ontaverous in White Sands, New Mexico

McDonald Ranch

The McDonald ranch house at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Photograph taken by Frank Ontaverous in February 1983 for the HABS/HAER project. Scientists and technicians from the Manhattan project assembled the plutonium bomb for the first atomic bomb test in this house during July of 1945. The blast, centered only about two miles away, blew the windows out of the ranch house, but the adobe structure survived with little damage and was restored in 1984 by the National Park Service.

If you like a good story with science, politics, war, and tragedy, check out Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Public Domain Photographs

The Library of Congress has a huge collection of public domain photographs from various collections, including the FSA (Farm Security Administration), the OWI (Office of War Information), and collections from the civil war and the HABS/HAER (Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record). The image quality is uneven, but there is some great stuff there.

Apparently, the Library of Congress is now getting involved with Yahoo and they're posting some of their photographs to Flickr:

In addition, an organization called is posting images from the Smithsonian Institution that seem to be in the public domain:

Update: Patrick Pecatte alerted me to another great collection of public domain photographs, PhotosNormandie, which has some heart-wrenching images from France during World War II. I'm not sure about how these photographs originated, but Patrick invites people to contribute accurate information about them.

More good ways to waste time!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Walker Evans Liked Angle Parking

And so do I. Walker Evans took this wonderful photograph of Main Street in Saratoga Springs, New York that featured a lineup of cars angle-parked on a street shiny with rain.

Here's a link to the image at Yale: Main Street, Saratoga Springs. Evans took this photograph in 1931.

Later, when he worked for the Farm Security Administration, he took similar images in other places:

Hale County, Alabama
County seat of Hale County, Alabama. 1935 or 1936. Walker Evans for the FSA.

Macon, Georgia
Main Street, Macon Georgia, March 1936. Walker Evans for the FSA.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

David Plowden on Photographing Bridges

David Plowden appeared on Studio 360 this weekend. There's a longer interview there, but also this wonderful short piece on his bridge photography. He's very modest.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Jet Lowe in Windsor, Vermont

Cornish-Windsor bridge
The Cornish-Windsor covered bridge spans the Connecticut River between Cornish, New Hampshire and Windsor, Vermont. Constructed in 1866, the two spans measure 203 feet and 204 feet long. These photographs were taken in 1984 by Jet Lowe for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER).

Cornish-Windsor bridge underside

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jet Lowe in Hancock, New Hampshire

Hancock-Greenfield bridgeJet Lowe took this picture of the Hancock-Greenfield bridge in November 2003 for the HABS/HAER project. What impresses me about many of the HABS/HAER photographs (and particularly those of Jet Lowe and Jack Boucher) is that, while they are intended as historical record, many of them are also beautiful, artistic photographs. Jet Lowe has the eye.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Jack Boucher in New Jersey

Pulaski Skyway, Manhattan in background

Jack Boucher took this picture of the Pulaski Skyway in 1978 for the HABS/HAER project at the Library of Congress.

Boston & Maine Railroad Bridge

Northampton bridge photo by Ed Bacher

My grandfather was an engineer on the Boston & Maine railroad based in Northampton, Massachusetts. He crossed this bridge every day as he drove his work train east along the B&M line. This multispan bridge crosses the Connecticut River just north of the Route 9 road bridge. The railroad is gone, but the bridge remains as part of the Norwottuck rail trail.

Northampton bridge,  photo by Ed Bacher

The bridge crosses Elwell Island in the Connecticut River, and the trees appear to be winning.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gary Samson in Concord

Concord gasholder house

Gary Samson teaches at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester. He took these photographs of the old Concord gasholder house in August of 1982 for the HABS/HAER project of the Library of Congress.

Concord gasholder house, interior view

This shot is looking up at the cupola of the old gasholder house.

Jet Lowe in Montana

Paragon bridge, Montana

Jet Lowe took this picture of the Paragon Bridge spanning the Yellowstone River in Montana in May, 1980. Lowe and Jack Boucher have taken an astonishing number of pictures of historic structures (including many bridges) for the HABS/HAER project of the Library of Congress.

Walker Evans on Fourth Street

Street view, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

I've been a Walker Evans fan for a long time, and there are lots of his images that I like. This one was taken in November, 1935, in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Evans worked for the Farm Security Administration for a couple of years (along with many other photographers), taking pictures of industrial towns and agricultural areas around the United States. I spent a couple of years in graduate school in Bethlehem in the mid-1980s and, except for the cars, Bethlehem looked pretty much the same. The steel mill is gone now, and I have not been back to Bethlehem in many years, so this scene may be different now.

Update (9/11/2019): This is Fourth Street now (via Google street view):

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Jack Boucher on the Lordville - Equinunk Bridge

Lordville-Equinunk bridge over the Delaware River.

This bridge crossed the Delaware River between Lordville, New York, and Equinunk, Pennsylvania. This picture is from the Historic American Buildings/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) project at the Library of Congress. It was taken by Jack Boucher in July of 1971. According to Bridgemeister, this bridge was demolished in 1986.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Motel 6 Index

The Iowa Caucus is tomorrow, and the New Hampshire primary is next Tuesday. Four years ago, I noticed that the room rate for the Motel 6 in Nashua is a good indicator of primary activity. Last week, the rate for a single room was $45.99. This morning it was $53.99.

Update, January 9, 2007. The primary was yesterday, and the rate is back down to $45.99. New Hampshire fades from the spotlight for another four years.