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The Central Libraries > Mid-Manhattan Library > Historical Postcards


New York City skyline, 1906
Digital ID: 836963

The end of the 19th century was the beginning of the golden age of postcards.  Advances in printing and photography allowed the mass production of captivating visual images affordable and available to everyone.  Swept up in a fad that hasn’t yet lost its appeal, millions of people at once began collecting and sending a visual record of their travels and tastes.

A fascinating historical peek at all five boroughs of New York City from the 1890’s until the 1920’s is provided through the 500 postcards newly added to the NYPL Digital Gallery.  The postcards also illustrate emerging lithographic and photographic printing styles.  Among the examples digitized are oil paintings, tinted photographs, colored lithographs, line photoengravings, relief prints, inkless intaglio prints, linocuts, hold-to-light cards, and cards with highlights delineated by glitter.

Hippopotamus, Central Park Zoo, N.Y. City. Postmarked 1906.
Digital ID: 836223

A new dimension to these latest postcards in the Digital Gallery is that both the front and the back of the postcards have been digitized.  This added feature opens windows on typographic style, on the content and creator of the card, and on the perspective of the individual long ago penning greetings to a friend, a family member or a fellow worker.  Here, a father instructs his child about the habits of a New York City hippopotamus.

The reverse side of the card
Digital ID: 836224