1860

Posted by Ellen

In 1860, when grand homes were being built along Walnut Street west of Rittenhouse Square, the need arose for grand stables nearby.

An entire block of a side street–then called Heberton, now Chancellor–was upgraded to house the carriages and steeds of the new Rittenhouse elite. The street was paved with granite blocks and widened to twice the usual side-street width, so that carriages could be driven directly in and out of stable doors, instead of being dragged by humans into the street and then turned before hitching the horses.

Five of the stables have survived; they are now condos and office suites, with garage parking in back. The block is a popular site for wedding photography.

In back of the stables is a much narrower street–Millowney then, St. James now–that housed the servants.

Posted by Ellen

Artists Jordan Lloyd, Dana Keller, and Sanna Dullaway try their hands at colorizing photographs from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They've got a new book out titled, appropriately enough, Colorized Photographs.

Above is Walt Whitman, who posed for the camera in 1887. Below are Japanese archers photographed circa 1860, and below that is a sunset viewed from the Tennessee state capitol building in Nashville in 1864.

These three images suggest some of the difficulties and limitations of colorization, even in the hands of talented artists. Walt Whitman in color looks a bit like a painted portrait we may have seen in a museum. The Japanese archers in color look like they're from a movie we're pretty sure we saw but can't quite remember. And while color probably adds visual interest to the Nashville scene, it doesn't really add to our comprehension of the historical situation documented in that photo–and the blaze of color in the sky arguably distracts the viewer from the drama and rhythm of the composition, which was originally rendered with an eye toward black and white simplicity.

Still and all, there's something about photographic revisionism that gets us interested all over again in how the world used to look.