In short, the thinking behind the postcard project is to allow the public to rediscover the city and surrounding region. Moreover, by using postcards from the past as the lens to view the city of today, it is hoped we can understand how much we’ve lost–and what steps we can take to reclaim for a modern metropolis the enthusiasm and beauty of the city of old.
Take for example the postcards featured in the postcard archive. What you’ll see here, especially in the views of city parks is an era city’s history where how we used the parks was very different than 2017. Enormous flower beds, fantastic fountains, wading pools, ponds with rich landscaping and wonderful shady groves for picnicking. Contrast this to today, in parks such as Benton or Compton Heights, where flower beds have been replaced by crab grass or seasonally blooming (daffodils) flowers. This project will hopefully inspire some rekindling of a ‘city beautiful movement’ in the city parks.
That’s the background for the first project. A ‘coffee table history’ as I call it, where I’m seeking to engage the public in taking present views of postcards in city parks, streets and of churches/landmarks around the city. It’s fun to be part of storytelling, even more so when all it takes to contribute to a project is a trip to the park you already know and love.
The second project, more ambitious and indeed–at the moment still in the brainstorming stages…is to undertake the task of creating a new series of postcards, using modern views. Again, as with project 1, this project would use crowd sourcing from the city, county, and metro east to identify and photograph landmarks from churches to parks and bridges that the community feels are historically important. Ideally, through a fundraising campaign, the project could even move from the digital to physical–who knows. What’s important is that you begin to appreciate and understand that what you see as ordinary and ugly today very well could be historical and hard to find in 50 to 100 years. Why not start documenting it now. No matter how mundane it appears on the surface?
Go to a neighborhood church? Snap a picture and send it. Have a favorite playground at a local park? Snap a picture and submit it. Ideally when this project reaches more concrete stages of planning a forum and system of public voting could be integrated to formalize the procedure.
But, projects aside, the most basic goal of the St. Louis Postcard Project is to begin an archive of every postcard view from St. Louis City, County and the Metro East. Sure, right now it’s pretty simple looking. As a grad student on a fixed income I don’t have the time to make a professional website, but I do have a hobby of collecting and sharing postcards and right now that’s what is driving this website forward.
So pull up a chair, turn on your tablet or laptop and have a gander at these fantastic postcards.