News flash: You can’t believe everything you see on Twitter. We know, we were shocked too.
Such was the case with this striking sepia-toned image that started lighting up the mediasphere yesterday billed as “the Earliest Photograph Taken of New York City – Broadway, May 1850.” (And immediately started attracting comments in the vein of: “And they haven’t fixed the potholes since!”)
— The NewYorkologist (@NewYorkologist) December 19, 2013
It’s a nice image, and it’s old, but even if it is dated properly (which it might not be) it wouldn’t be old enough. As Gizmodo’s Adam Clark Estes so aptly pointed out, the actual oldest photo of New York City is a daguerreotype taken in 1848 (pictured at the top), which captures a rustic estate near what would become an extension of Broadway.
At least that’s the oldest known photo of the Big Apple, known because it sold at a recent auction for $62,500. There may be older images, but it’s hard to precisely date daguerrotypes, which made their way to the U.S. shortly after Louis Daguerre announced his invention in 1839.
And frankly, it’s not nearly as impressive as the patience, preparation and muscle control that went into capturing the world’s first selfie, in 1839.
Image credit: Photograph courtesy of Sotheby’s