Forest Park Fountain, Springfield, Mass

A fountain in Forest Park, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

Forest Park was established in 1884, when Orrick H. Greenleaf donated around 65 acres of land on the south side of Sumner Avenue. Other benefactors soon gave adjoining parcels to the city, but the single largest gift came in 1890, when ice skate manufacturer Everett H. Barney gave nearly 175 acres of what is now the western end of Forest Park. This gift included his home, Pecousic Villa, and its well-landscaped grounds, which featured aquatic gardens, ponds, and the meandering Pecousic Brook. Barney’s only stipulation was that he and his wife would be allowed to live in the house for the rest of their lives, with the city taking possession of it after their deaths.

The first photo shows a view of this section of the park, facing west from the top of a dam on the Pecousic Brook. At the foot of the dam is a small pool lined with stones, with a fountain in the center. Beyond the pool, the brook flows under a simple plank bridge, before rounding a curve to skirt past the aquatic gardens, which are visible in the upper left center of the photo. To the right is a steep hill leading up to a broad plateau, and there is a similar one just out of view on the left, forming a narrow valley for the brook to flow through.

Today, nearly 115 years since the first photo was taken, Forest Park has seen some major changes, but it remains the largest park in the city, and one of its most popular recreation areas. Further upstream of here, there are several more dams and ponds that have been constructed since the early 20th century, but the course of the brook remains largely the same in this scene. The dam is still here, as is the pool, although the perimeter now consists of large rocks, as opposed to the small, round stones of the first photo. However, perhaps the most noticeable change to this scene is the covered pedestrian bridge in the center of the 2018 photo, on the same spot where the plank bridge had once crossed the brook.

Lafayette Statue, Washington, DC

The Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette statue in Lafayette Square, opposite the White House in Washington, D.C., around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The statue in 2018:

Lafayette Square has been parkland since Washington, D.C. was laid out in the 1790s, but it did not receive its current name until 1824, when it was dedicated in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. It is located directly to the north of the White House, on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, and during the 19th century the other streets around the square became one of Washington’s most desirable residential areas.

The first statue in the square was, ironically, not of Lafayette. Instead, it was an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, which was dedicated in 1853 in the center of the park. This statue of Lafayette, located in the southeast corner of the square, was not added until 1891. Officially titled Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette, the 36-foot statue was the work of French sculptor Alexandre Falguière. Lafayette stands atop the pedestal, but the monument also includes figures of four other French military leaders of the American Revolution: Comte d’Estaing and Comte de Grasse on the right, and Comte de Rochambeau and the Chevalier Duportail on the left side. In the center, looking up at Lafayette, is a female figure representing America.

The first photo was taken within about 10 to 15 years after the Lafayette statue was dedicated. Around this time, it was joined by three more statues, with one on each of the other three corners of the square. Like the Lafayette statue, these all honored prominent foreign leaders of the American Revolution, starting with Rochambeau in 1902 and followed by statues of Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben in 1910.

In more than a century since the first photo was taken, the area surrounding Lafayette Square has undergone significant changes. Many early 19th century townhouses are still standing, but they are no longer used as private residences, and they are now joined by more recent government buildings. However, the square itself is not much different from its early 20th century appearance, and all five statues still stand here, including the Lafayette one that is shown here. These statues are now part of the Lafayette Square Historic District, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool, Washington, DC (3)

The view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool, seen from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 20, 1925. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

These photos show nearly the same view as the ones in the previous post, but they were taken from the opposite side of the Lincoln Memorial steps. As discussed in that post, very little has changed in this scene in nearly a century since the first photo was taken. Both the Reflecting Pool and the Washington Monument remain iconic features of Washington, along with the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Castle further in the distance. However, there have been a few changes on the left side of the Reflecting Pool, where the Main Navy and Munitions Buildings once stood. Intended to be only temporary, these buildings were constructed as military offices during World War I, but they remained here until 1970, when they were finally demolished to create Constitution Gardens on the site.

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool, Washington, DC (2)

The view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool, seen from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 20, 1925. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

These photos show the view from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, facing toward the Reflecting Pool,with the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol further in the distance. This angle is very similar to the photos in a previous post, but the first photo here was taken almost 20 years before the one in that post, and it gives a wider view of the surrounding area. Some of the other landmarks visible in the first photo include the Old Post Office in the distant center, the National Museum of Natural History to the left of the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Institution Building to the right of the monument. Closer to the foreground, beyond the trees to the left of the Reflecting Pool, are the Main Navy and Munitions Buildings, a group of temporary buildings that were constructed during World War I.

Today, nearly a century after the first photo was taken, remarkably little has changed in this scene. The trees around the Reflecting Pool are taller now, obscuring most of the Washington skyline, but the Old Post Office is still there, as is the Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution Building. Only the temporary World War I buildings are gone, having been demolished in 1970 and replaced by the Constitution Gardens. The Reflecting Pool has seen a few minor changes, including the addition of paved walkways along the perimeter in 2012. Otherwise, though, the only significant addition to this scene is the World War II Memorial. It was dedicated in 2004 on the former site of the Rainbow Pool, and it can be seen on the far end of the Reflecting Pool in the 2018 photo.

Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool, Washington, DC

The view of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool, seen from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in November 1943. Image taken by Esther Bubley, courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA/OWI Collection.

The scene in 2018:

The first photo was taken in 1943 by Esther Bubley, a noted photographer who was employed by the Office of War Information. Only 22 years old at the time, she spent much of 1943 documenting civilian life on the home front, particularly here in the Washington area. Most of the subjects in her photographs were people, but this is one of the few cityscape photographs in her collection, showing one of Washington’s most iconic views in the midst of World War II. Taken from essentially the same spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. would give his “I Have a Dream” speech 20 years later, the first photo shows the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, with the Washington Monument beyond it in the center of the scene.

This view is easily recognizable today, but upon close examination there were some differences in 1943. On the left side of the scene were the Main Navy and Munitions Buildings, a group of temporary military buildings that were constructed during World War I. They can be seen in a 1922 photo from a previous post, and they were still in use during World War II, and by this point they had been joined by newer temporary buildings, hidden from view on the right side of the scene. These buildings were constructed in order to accommodate the large numbers of government employees needed for the war effort, and the two complexes were joined by pedestrian bridges that spanned the Reflecting Pool, as seen in the first photo.

The bridges were removed soon after the end of the war, but the “temporary” buildings would remain here for several more decades. The ones on the right were finally demolished in 1964, and the ones on the left in 1970. Both sides of the Reflecting Pool became open parkland, with the left side being developed as Constitution Gardens. Otherwise, this scene has not significantly changed in the 76 years since the first photo was taken, and the only noteworthy addition is the World War II Memorial, located at the far end of the Reflecting Pool. This memorial was dedicated in 2004, on what had previously been the site of the Rainbow Pool, and it honors the Americans who were serving in the war around the same time that the first photo was taken.

Springfield & Connecticut River from Forest Park (2)

Looking north up the Connecticut River toward downtown Springfield, from Laurel Hill in Forest Park, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2018:

These photos were taken from the same spot as the ones in a previous post, but they show the view looking a little further to the left, directly up the Connecticut River. The location of these photos is Laurel Hill, a bluff on the western end of Forest Park. It was once part of the estate of Everett H. Barney, a wealthy ice skate manufacturer who built his mansion, Pecousic Villa, nearby in 1883. He had intended to build a second home here on Laurel Hill for his only child, George, but George died in 1889 at the age of 26, and Everett instead build a mausoleum here on the hill.

A year later, Everett donated his property – which included the house, a carriage house, and meticulously-landscaped grounds – to the city. This land became part of Forest Park, which had been established 1884 after another benefactor, Orrick H. Greenleaf, gave what is now the eastern section of the park. Barney’s gift extended the park all the way west to the Connecticut River, and his only stipulation was that he and his wife be allowed to live at Pecousic Villa for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps the most scenic part of the newly-expanded park was here at Laurel Hill, where an overlook near the mausoleum provided sweeping views of the Connecticut River and downtown Springfield. In the foreground of the photo is the western entrance to the park, flanked by hedges and a pair of stone markers with the letter “B” carved into them. Longhill Street runs across the foreground, along with trolley tracks that are barely visible in the road. More noticeable from this angle are the poles that supported the overhead wires for the trolleys. The railroad also passed through this scene, although the tracks are hidden from view because they ran further down the embankment between the street and the river.

In the center of the first photo is the South End Bridge, an iron truss bridge that was completed in 1879. It was the third bridge across the river in Springfield, after the Old Toll Bridge in 1805/1820 and the North End Bridge in 1877, and it provided direct access to the city from Agawam and points to the south and west, replacing an earlier ferry that had operated here. Just beyond and to the left of the bridge is the mouth of the Westfield River, which is one of the largest tributaries of the Connecticut River.

Further upstream from the bridge is downtown Springfield, which is marked by an assortment of church steeples and smokestacks. The white, wooden steeple of Old First Church is visible in almost the exact center of the photo, and just to the right of it is the granite tower of the Hampden County Courthouse. Other identifiable steeples include, from left to right, those of St. Joseph’s Church, St. Michael’s Cathedral, Church of the Unity, and South Congregational Church. Aside from these churches, another major landmark is the main arsenal of the Springfield Armory, which is visible to the right, on a bluff overlooking the city.

In the nearly 115 years since the first photo was taken, this scene has undergone some dramatic changes. The most obvious of these is the construction of Interstate 91, which now passes through the narrow space between Laurel Hill and the Connecticut River. This section of the highway was built in the early 1960s, and the project required the demolition of Pecousic Villa, which had been  acquired by the city after Everett Barney’s death in 1916. However, the carriage house was spared, and it still stands on the bluff, just out of view on the far right side of the scene. Both the mausoleum and the overlook on Laurel Hill are also still part of Forest Park, although the modern-day view lacks the same picturesque attributes of the first photo.

Aside from Interstate 91, another major change to this scene is the South End Bridge. Also known as the Julia B. Buxton Bridge, the present-day South End Bridge was completed in 1954, replacing the old 1879 bridge from the first photo. Further in the distance, the Springfield skyline is also very different from the early 20th century. For many years, the city had no skyscrapers because of height restrictions, but these were lifted in 1970 with the construction of the 371-foot Tower Square, which is visible in the center of the 2018 photo. Several other skyscrapers would be built in the ensuing years, including the Monarch Place office building to the right of Tower Square, and the Chestnut Park apartment building a little further to the right.

Despite all of these changes, though, there are some surviving landmarks from the first photo. The churches are no longer the dominant features in the skyline, yet some of them are still standing, including Old First Church, St. Michael’s Cathedral, and South Congregational. The old courthouse is also still there, as is the Armory, but these older buildings are now joined in this scene by modern hotels, office buildings, parking garages, and the silver dome of the Basketball Hall of Fame.