The Earliest Surviving Photograph of an American City

The 120° panoramic image (and its crop) you see above is titled “Daguerreotype View of Cincinnati” and was captured in 1848 by Porter and Fontayne from Newport, Kentucky. It was created with eight full-plate daguerreotypes and shows a two mile stretch of the Cincinnati waterfront. Codex 99 writes,

The panorama is not only the first photograph of the Cincinnati waterfront but the earliest surviving photo of any American city. It is also the earliest image of inland steamboats, of a railroad terminal and of freed slaves. It may very well be one of the most important American photographs ever taken.

You can check out a full-sized version here.

Daguerreotype View of Cincinnati (via Coudal)

  • Samy

    1848 you mean ?

  • PLD

    1948 or 1848? I find it very hard to believe the oldest surviving photograph of any city in America is from 1948.

  • hmm

    Do you mean 1846?

  • Anthony Yaranon


  • hmm

    sorry, 1848…

  • Guest

    Give or take 100 years…

  • Tomgotsue

    Do you mean 1848? There are many photographs existing before 1948 of many cities.

  • Caymandrew

    Cincinnati 1848 Daguerreotype Deemed not First Photo of Humans

  • Mystic  On the original site is says 1848…

  • PeckJuliette6

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  • Trausti Hraunfjörð

    Another view of the pano (low res): 

  • Knur

    hory shet ! impossibru, yu min 1848  ?

  • Powderspringsgeorgia

    I guess “proof read” is no longer in our vocabulary.

  • Saint

    At least spell Cincinnati correctly….

  • mrbeard

    be interesting to see what that location looks like present day

  • Katrina

    Hi-res, zoomable images of all the plates are also available at

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  • Curator

    This is a masterpiece of early photography, but is by no means the earliest surviving photograph of an American city. There are daguerreotypes of Philadelphia and Boston dating to as early as 1840, Washington DC in 1846. See Beaumont Newhall, “The Daguerreotype in America” (1961) for a start.