Figuring out the exact day three old photos of New York City were taken

Originally published at: Figuring out the exact day three old photos of New York City were taken | Boing Boing


I just returned from the future, looks like everything turned out OK, well for my Dear Wife and I, we are still kicking it old school and all. Sorry I didn’t get an exact date, just the year.
[see photo attached]


This is garbage. He didn’t even tell us what the people in the photos had for breakfast that day. Some detective he is.


Gotta bookmark for later, but if this turns out to involve a newspaper, I’ll be disappointed…


Pretty good building up potential possibilities, but the use of wall signage to give an end date is shaky-a friend makes a point of taking pictures of ghost signs-ones still visible and legible decades after the business closed. The building construction is more reliable. It’s fun how he felt compelled to make up a whole narrative for the photographer. (I also know lots of people who label every photo they ever took, even ones of their hometowns)


I was thinking the same thing about the signage. Lack of buildings is a good indication. Signs stay up till someone pays to have them taken down which can be decades.

I would have pursued the building construction angle. Find a finished picture then use that to determine the stage of construction it was in. From there research construction documents and look for additional photography showing the building during that stage of construction.

Linking the photos together is complete conjecture. The whole thing reminds me of paleontology where a narratives are built around literal bones and filled in with imagination and educated guesses.


Also, he assumes that all of these photos were taken on the same day, because the locations are close to one another? The one from the bridge had enough white pillowy snow to form a one foot mound when shoveled over, but the rooftops and street view photos seemed to be free of snow. Did I miss something in his explanation that accounts for that?


i’m not buying his idea that only a tourist would label the photos. photography was still in its infancy back then, and expensive. these are definitely not hobby shots taken by some child. keeping the camera steady while the shot was taken was crucial. i think they are taken by a local professional or at the least a hobbyist, if anything, and labeling them seems a natural thing when you’re a professional photographer. i was surprised he didn’t at least try to match the handwriting between the photos to add weight to his idea that the same person took them all. all that being said, i love his sleuthing of the signs and construction, and the angle of the shadows, though.


For anyone living where there is snow, this isn’t unusual. Structures in the air like bridges can be colder if the air is cold and retain snow/ice longer than the ground or rooftops that radiate/store heat.
Hence all the “bridge freezes before road” signs across the northern half of the US.


Or archaeology. Perhaps these three photos were used for ritual purposes?

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Absolutely! The shaky penmanship certainly shows the effect of ritual psychedelic drug usage.


Pro tip: uncrop first, then enhance.


The mounding of the snow on one side of the bridge and the slushy melt on the opposite side might have to do more with drifting and sun exposure. It feels like a stretch to assume that it’s correlated with that first snowfall of the year.

In the Broadway photo, he claims that bright white building with the columns is not there. Really? Then what are those white columns I can see in the background between the midground tree trunks?

The splotches in the corners on the back of one of the photos looks like it could have been from those adhesive corners used to mount photos in an album.

Woot, Brontosaurus checking in!

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Enhance pants

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