Wide Angle

As treasure spots go the Library of Congress online collection of panoramic photographs is worth digging into with Tacoma as a search term. These images mostly date from the late 19th century through the second world war and are the unique product of a rather amazing optic contraption. Panorama cameras used roll film that was pulled through the back as the lens panned horizontally. The machines had an elaborate clockwork of gears inside and took very careful staging on the part of the photographer. The resulting images flattened out the landscape and subject matter captured by the lens so it was not uncommon for a line of people or horses or automobiles to be arranged in an arc around the camera. Once the photo was developed the group would appear to be standing in a straight line shoulder to shoulder. Here’s something to watch for. It was very common in group panorama photos for the person on the end, once photographed, to run around behind the camera in time to be captured a second time on the other end of the line. When the photo gets printed the person shows up twice, like bookends.

The Tacoma panos are downloadable in very high resolution  for free from LoC.


Stadium Pano
Stadium 1913


pano Tacoma 2
City (Thea Foss) Waterway ca. 1909
Pano Tacoma1
North Downtown ca. 1914
North End Residential
Pano Tacoma4
Camp Lewis ca. 1918
Tacoma Hotel Staff.jpg
Tacoma Hotel Staff 1905

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