The goal of this project is pretty straightforward — we compare postcard views of the past to images of the present. I often call this ‘coffee table history,’ as it provides little analysis, focusing instead on the emotion and insight provided by two photographs, side by side, decades apart. Coffee table history books are interesting the first time you look at them, after that, they tend to sit and collect dust.
To distinguish the project from ‘coffee table history’, the St. Louis Postcard Project will not be the product of one person’s vision, rather, it seeks to utilize crowd sourced photograph submissions. For every postcard there can be infinite interpretations of how to best duplicate the image–and thus, the project will grow through the additions of new interpretations from varying angles, sun/weather conditions or seasons!
Some postcards will be tricky to duplicate–in those instances, one’s creativity will be key to finding a way to reflect the changes in the local environment. Other cards will be difficult to duplicate because the subject has either disappeared or changed dramatically–this is especially true for cards that feature subjects from the city’s central business district. For these cards I’ll note a street address, direction or coordinates.
I’ve gone ahead and posted “starter packs” of postcards, taken from my collection or elsewhere on the internet and placed them in themed groups on the homepage. As I continue to compile new cards I will create new starter packs, the idea behind them is to allow participants to duplicate as many postcards as possible in one location.
I encourage you to do this at your leisure–download a few card designs to your phone, walk/drive to the park (or location of postcards) and do your best to duplicate the postcard views. Enjoy the scenery and observe how different the park is in 2017 to the postcard (most date between 1907-1925).