It's pretty straight forward to most people how to guestimate when an image was taken. And many examples out there showing the way things used to be are postcards. One of the first things I do is turn the card over and read the message. What is the postmark? That gives you a definite timeline of when it was actually sent. But is that everything there is to go by? No, and frankly the postage cancel is just part of the puzzle.
Here's an example to look at. The Erie Avenue Viaduct in Lorain, Ohio. On the back is a message and a visible cancellation stamp.
It might be hard to read the third number, but this postmark is Sep 8 1920 at 5:00 p.m. from Lorain, Ohio. So in the image we see there are automobiles on the bridge of the styling that would point to the 20s. We also see boats on the canal or river.
One funny thing I notice, isn't that ship pretty big for that canal or river? A Google search tells me that a swing bridge was installed at the Black River on Erie Avenue in the 1870s. But the scale of these ships look a little off to me. So I go searching and here is an earlier example.
This is a photo of the same bridge. It's an earlier timeframe -- circa 1907. The horse drawn wagon with man walking beside is exactly the same as the 1920 image. This photo was taken by Willis Leiter who established his photo studio in Lorain in 1901. He produced postcards from 1905 through 1915.
My image was added to and colorized by presumably Hamm Studios in Toledo. All the houses in the background where added--the original image lacks those details. Bridge traffic was added, the automobile and the people walking with the exception of those people seen along the edge of the bridge in the image above. The tug and ship was added, I'm not certain that swing bridge would have accommodated that large a boat. The 1920s image is an actual image of the area from 1907.
Photo studios that produced postcards added elements to those images to either update them or enhance them. Those cars and ships where similar to clipart that we are familiar with. I'm not sure how they did it, but it was added in the photo reproduction process.
Today this area looks vastly different (image below). The original bridge was replaced with a bascule (draw) bridge in 1988.
Put-In-Bay is on the South Bass Island off the coast of Ohio in Lake Erie. It got it's name from the early sailors on the great lake that would shelter in this specific bay during bad weather. They would *put* in this bay to wait. The light was established in 1897 and ran until it was deactivated in 1962.
Cool vintage image of the interior of the Palms Café from Columbus, Indiana. This is my hometown, and I know this area very well. There was an early reference to this location being the current Fourth Street Bar in downtown Columbus. I believe that is incorrect. This building is no longer there and is now the parking lot for the bank. The current address for the Fourth Street Bar is 433 4th Street and the address on this image listed as the Palm at 425 Fourth Street. This is what Google Street View shows.
An earlier image plainly shows the façade of the old Palms Restaurant. It frankly looks nothing like the façade of the current 4th Street Bar. I've provided some images below that show what I mean.
I don't believe those are the same buildings. If the Palm Building originally had the distinctive decorative touches the 4th Street Bar building currently retains, they had been removed in an earlier renovation as shown in the photo. Those would not have been put back.The Glassner Department store was also located at 425 4th Street before moving to Washington Street. The 4th Street Bar building has been a restaurant since the 1920s. Before that it was listed as a residence in the earliest city directories I could find.
I love these old school hotels. They are very hard to find in the wild anymore. Most have been torn down, making way for modern development. And it doesn't look like this one remains. It was located on Hwy 77 which was the old stage coach line between Sioux City, Iowa and Fort Randall. In those days it often took 5 hours to travel that road the 25 mile distance from Sioux City. Below is the current view of the town compliments Google Street View.
Madison Square Garden III, home to the Knicks and Rangers, opened in 1925 and lasted through 1968. It was located on 8th between 49th and 50th in Manhattan. Below is the current view seen through Google Street View
Detail of limestone carving on base. The Monument, dedicated in 1902, is a hallmark of the state of Indiana and is how Indianapolis received it's nickname, Circle City. It is made of oolitic limestone which was mined in Owen County, Indiana. This image depicts Rudolph Schwartz' statue The Return Home.
Frankfort State Capitol shown in an amateur snapshot, probably circa shortly after dedication in 1910. This is the side of the building with the Governor's Mansion in the background to the left.