Friday, September 9, 2016

High Rock

Rotograph's scenic view cards don't typically emphasize recognizable human figures, although they occasionally include a few for scale or as an indication of local color. If nothing else, to the extent that these postcards were intended as evidence of having visited a landmark, it might have been considered distracting to have other people depicted in one's souvenirs. This view of Sacandaga Park in the Adirondacks is a bit of an exception. Its aesthetic is more reminiscent of the Real Photo postcards that amateur photographers captured of their own family and friends, except that the group in this case is made up of people who were strangers to the sender and recipient. Perhaps the photographer just liked the composition.

The geological feature shown here lent its name to a popular inn, the High Rock Lodge. Donald R. Williams provides the lodge's history in his book Adirondack Hotels and Inns:
High Rock Lodge owed its popularity to the Sacandaga Amusement Park, the "Coney Island of the Adirondacks." Built on a hillside overlooking the park, it attracted hikers, tourists, parkgoers, and entertainers over its 50-year history. The lodge, operating as a farmhouse inn, was built in 1901 by James Hull for Reuben D. Buckingham. The large rock... located on the site, became a popular hiking destination for the thousands who came to enjoy the Sacandaga Park attractions. In 1940, Ashley and Mildred Dawes purchased the three-story, 54-room hostelry and operated it as a summer lodge and cottages, along with a restaurant. It burned on August 22, 1951.
This particular copy was mailed in 1905 to a Rural Delivery address in Olean, NY.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


The photographer who captured this image of the intersection of Ann and Nassau Streets in lower Manhattan managed to include a wealth of detail in the frame, from the advertisement for the "Oak Rooms" of the clothier Cohen & Co. to the ornate column surmounted by an eagle, the newsboy on the corner, and the whole bustle of signs, pedestrians, and horse-drawn carts.

This was a long-established commercial neighborhood, favored by the printing and publishing trades from the late 18th century on. In the 1840s the Evening Mirror, to which Poe contributed "The Raven" and much else besides, was published at the address of the building at left. Later in the century Peck & Snyder operated a thriving business selling baseballs and other sporting goods from this block of Nassau, until they were bought out by A. G. Spaulding. There's a sign advertising sporting goods in this postcard (it's on the right side of Nassau Street, below the one advertising "Artists Materials"), but I haven't been able to determine if it was a successor to the earlier business.

My copy of this card was mailed to a Mrs. Moses Benn of Houlton, Maine, a town along the New Brunswick border that at the time was home to some 5,000 people. The inscription, in pencil, reads:
Dear Aunt Lottie; We are on our way home. Now sitting in Grand Central Station N. Y. waiting for train. [Illegible] received your letter. We were so glad to hear. — G. G. — Will write later.