Library of Congress Digitizes Archive of Early 20th Century Panoramic Postcards


Last month, the Library of Congress finally finished a project they started all the way back in 2008: they finished digitizing an archive of 467 panoramic postcards from the early 1900’s. All of these postcards are now available online for interested folks to peruse through, learn from and enjoy.

Panoramic postcards like these first came onto the scene in the early 1900’s to document everything from sweeping landscapes to towering skyscrapers. Measuring in at 3.5 x 10-inches, they were usually folded for more compact delivery, and many of them were delicate “real photo” postcards, which is why it took the Library of Congress so long to scan them in.

Like any photography fad, even back then the technique was sometimes used just for the sake of using it. Capturing a beautiful landscape or a massive ocean liner in a panorama made sense … capturing a flock of seagulls eating fish on the beach may not have warranted a panorama.

Here’s a selection of postcards from the Library’s archive:











Most are in black and white, but there are a few color postcards thrown in as well. To browse the entire selection and see what places like Jersey City, Atlantic City and Brooklyn looked like in the early 1900’s, click here to check out the entire archive.

(via Hyperallergic)

  • Thiago Medeiros

    These panoramas are a true technological feat for the time; I read somewhere that those view cameras has a very rudimentary sweep panorama mode, even harder to use than Sony’s…

  • Cy Leow

    FIVE years to digitise 467 postcards? Seriously guys! ;)

  • slvrscoobie

    Looks like a lot of them suffered from the ‘how to photoshop before photoshop’ effect. Lots of drawn in smoke plumes and such..