Fenway Park, Boston (3)

Fenway Park as it appeared in 1912, the year it opened. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.


Roughly the same view, in April 2006:


For the first 35 years of its existence, the Green Monster wasn’t green – it was essentially a giant billboard.  And the original Green Monster seats weren’t on top of it – they were at the base, atop Duffy’s Cliff – a steep incline leading up to the wall that was usually in play and was mastered by Boston left fielder Duffy Lewis.  For this particular photo in 1912, the bleacher seats were temporarily constructed to handle the increased crowds for the 1912 World Series.  The original wooden 1912 wall is gone – it was replaced in 1934 by the present-day wall, and the incline was eliminated, making left field several feet below the level of Landsdowne Street, which is located directly behind the Monster.  The other major feature in the 1912 photo – the wooden left field bleachers – are also gone.  They burned in 1926, and since fans weren’t exactly clamoring to get through the turnstiles at Fenway in the 1920’s, they were not replaced until Tom Yawkey purchased the team and extensively renovated the park to its current configuration in 1934.  See posts #1 and #2 to see similar views from 1912 and the present-day.

Fenway Park, Boston (2)

Another view of Fenway Park from 1912, the year that it opened. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.

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The same view in July, 2011:


One of Fenway Park’s many quirky features is “Pesky’s Pole,” the right field foul pole that stands a mere 302 feet from home plate, making it the shortest possible home run distance in any MLB park.  Much of this is due to the piecemeal way in which the park was built and modified over the course of 100 years.  See this post for the view of the park from the same spot but looking further to the right.

Fenway Park, Boston (1)

The view of Fenway Park from the right field bleachers, about a week before the beginning of the 1912 World Series. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Bain Collection.


Fenway Park in July 2011:


Fenway Park is the oldest MLB park, being several years older than the Cubs’s Wrigley Field, but along the way it has been extensively transformed.  Very little of the park remains from its 1912 appearance; the bleachers on the far right side of the 1912 photo burned in 1926, and in the perfect metaphor for the team itself during this time period, the bleachers lay in the ashes of its former glory until Tom Yawkey purchased the club in 1933.  One of his first moves was to rehabilitate the park, which included constructing the present concrete and steel grandstand in the infield area.  Thus, photos from the 1930’s and later show a ballpark that very closely resembles the Fenway Park that we know today.  Curiously, although the 1912 photo shows a park with just a single deck in the grandstand area, the foundations were built to accommodate a second deck in the event that the team eventually decided to expand the seating.  This is perhaps what ensured the park’s existence into the 21st century; although small and old, it has been able to adapt in ways that most other early 20th century parks were unable to.

White House, Washington, DC

The White House, as it appeared in either the 1880s or 1890s. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Other Places

The same view in 2012:


The White House doesn’t look all that different from what it looked like in the late 19th century, and yet almost everything about it has changed.  The East Wing and West Wing, which aren’t visible in the 2012 photo, didn’t exist at the time of the first photo, nor did the third floor on the roof, or the second floor balcony behind the pillars.  But, the most dramatic changes in the past 120 or so years came in the late 1940’s, when the badly-deteriorated wood frame was in danger of collapse.  The entire interior was gutted, the wood frame was replaced with steel, and the interior put back into place afterward (see this photo of bulldozers and dump trucks at work inside the White House).  The exterior, however, remains much the same as it did after the reconstruction following its burning during the War of 1812.

National Mall from the Washington Monument

The National Mall, looking toward the Capitol Building, as seen from the Washington Monument between 1906 and 1915:

The scene in 1945. Image taken by Reginald Hotchkiss, courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA/OWI Collection.

The scene in 2021:

The National Mall is one of the most-visited places in Washington DC, yet it did not always have its carefully-manicured appearance, as shown in the first photo. Several major landmarks were already standing here along the Mall, most notably the National Museum of Natural History on the left and the Smithsonian Castle on the right, with the Arts and Industries Building just beyond it to the right. Further in the distance of the first photo is the Capitol, with the Library of Congress behind it. However, most of the Mall was still vacant at this point, and it would be many more decades before all of the current Smithsonian museums were constructed here.

The second photo, taken in 1945, shows several newer buildings in this scene, including the National Archives on the far left, the National Gallery of Art just beyond the Museum of Natural History, and the Supreme Court Building behind the Capitol. Aside from these major institutional buildings, though, the Mall area also became the site of many temporary War Department buildings during World War I and II. Some of these can be seen in the second photo, particularly in the lower left and upper middle of the photo. During the first half of the 20th century, the landscaping of the Mall also changed significantly, and in the 1930s a number of elm trees were planted in rows along the Mall, as shown in the second photo.

Today, more than 75 years after the second photo was taken, the Mall is home to even more museums, many of which were constructed on the sites of the temporary wartime buildings. In the lower left corner of the scene is the Museum of American History, and in the upper right is the Hirshorn Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of the American Indian. Further in the distance on the left, the National Gallery of Art has since expanded, and now has a second building to the east of its original facility. Despite these additions, though, the scene is still easily recognizable from the second photo, and even many of the elm trees are still standing, despite being threatened by Dutch Elm Disease.

Looking northeast from the Washington Monument

The view looking northeast from the top of the Washington Monument, between 1906 and 1915. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 1945. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA/OWI Collection.

The scene in 2021:

Much has changed in more than a century since the first photo was taken, including the massive complex of government buildings in the foreground, which now house the US Department of Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency. However, some of the landmarks from the first photo are still standing, including most prominently the Old Post Office just to the left of center, which is now the Trump International Hotel. Further in the distance is the Pension Building, which is now the National Building Museum, and in the upper right corner is Union Station. Much closer to the foreground, on the far right side of both photos, is the back corner of the National Museum of Natural History.