Friday, April 25, 2008

Bird's Eye Views & Panoramic Shots of Springfield

Bird's-eye view and panoramic images have long captured folks' fancy. Perhaps it is because they satisfy a primordial urge to climb to the highest available point to survey our surroundings, assess our environment. Mountains may be conquered because they are "there," but it is the view from the top that is the marvel and the prize.

Here are some images of Springfield, from a variety of media, that afford us that look around, to survey and assess, to see the city of yesterday from a falcon's perspective.

This cropped section of an 1875 O. H. Bailey & Co. bird's-eye view map of Springfield includes Water Street - which met its demise with the construction of Interstate 91 - running parallel with the Connecticut River. Another interesting point to note is Damon's Bridge, at the end of all places, Bridge Street. Today Bridge Street is bridge-less, the Hampden County Memorial Bridge, built in 1920-22 as a replacement for the old covered toll bridge laid across the banks a block or so downriver, tying in with Boland Way. Boland Way is named in honor of U. S. Representative Edward P. Boland (1911-2001). This map and many more can be found in the Map Collections of the Library of Congress (LOC).

The riverbank is crowded with homes and businesses in this E. J. Lazelle photograph of Springfield in the 1880s, scanned from the 1905 book, 'Springfield Present and Prospective.'

This photo postcard from the Barbara Shaffer Collection has an undivided back, meaning it was published sometime around 1901-1907, when Post Office regulations limited the reverse side to the sender's and return addresses only. The view is from the corner of State and Chestnut Streets.

Here is another scan from the 1905 book, 'Springfield Present and Prospective,' an uncredited photograph of the view west from the tower at the U. S. Arsenal at Springfield.

Springfield in 1913 from the corner of Main and State Streets, with a rare combination of both north and east views. From the Prints and Photographs Division of the LOC.

Springfield College and Watershops Pond as seen from an airplane circa 1920 or so. This photograph is also part of the LOC collection.

This postcard (and the following two) have the divided backs and "chrome" finish that place their publication sometime after 1939. This view shows the city of Springfield, looking northwest, captured in a photograph snapped by Lloyd White Bell, the color added later. Shown spanning the Connecticut River are the Memorial Bridge and its upstream cousin, the Western Railroad bridge, which, at the time of its construction in 1840, was the longest railroad bridge in the world. The towering Campanile, which is part of the Municipal Group, is the city's highest building, just to the right of the Memorial Bridge.

Postcards become more interesting when they are captioned, the scene described. Here is the caption from the reverse of the postcard above: "Bird's-eye View, looking North, showing Mt. Tom. From the Municipal Tower, 300 feet in the air, overlooking the busiest section of the city, the Union Station and North toward Mt. Tom whose Summit House can be seen in the distance."

Another view of a growing Springfield, this time looking south. Thanks, Barbara, for sharing these great postcards!

And here is Springfield as seen from above recently in the free program, Google Earth, at an angle very similar to the 1875 map crop up above. One has to wonder what the cartographers and artists at O. H. Bailey & Co. would have thought of such technological marvels offering aerial views on command as we enjoy today.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

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debracard1 said...

While cleaning out my Mother's attic, I recently came across 4 postcards 3 of forest park(Paddle Pond,Rose Garden and Laurel Hill) and 1 of MassMutual. From Internet searches, using curteich code - they are from 30's and 40's. There was also one from Henry J Perkins Company Springfield Mass where the postage is marked One Cent. Didn't know if you are interested in seeing.

Mark T. Alamed said...


They certainly sound interesting. Do you have access to a scanner? My email is:



(Sorry for the late reply)