I recently bought a fascinating book called Postcards of the Night: Views of American Cities by John A. Jakle, a professor of geography at the University of Illinois. The book was published in 2003 by the Museum of New Mexico Press.

Page after page of beautiful nighttime postcard images from all across the U. S. There's one of the Pittsburgh Pirates stadium at night that I'd love to own. And some amazing shots of San Francisco at night, including Chinatown.

The introduction written by Mr. Jakle is fascinating. I'll quote just one small bit:
"Postcard publishers engaged freely in the alteration or manipulation of photographs, producing highly "fictionalized" pictorial art masquerading as realistic. Touch-up work produced cleaner, simplified images, making the places pictured seem less complicated and tidier and, perhaps, more salable as postcard views. Conversely, places might be made to appear more complicated and thus, presumably, more interesting.... Many if not most postcards, she concluded were a 'composite of fantasy, boosterism, wishful thinking, simplification, and outright lie.' Especially was nighttime postcard depiction a product of revision. As a matter of fact, most nighttime views were contrived from daytime photographs and were not, strictly speaking, nighttime photos at all." (SOURCE: Postcards of the Night: Views of American Cities)
Just as I often suspected when looking at some of the nighttime skies, they were fake.

And to read more about the book simply go to the second item down in the Tattered and Lost What-Not Suggestions column to the left.

This is my contribution to this weeks Postcard Friendship Friday.

Capitol Plaza_ft_tatteredandlost

Capitol Plaza_bk_tatteredandlost
Click on either image to see it larger.

Over the next few days I'll be featuring some more of my nighttime postcards.


  1. it's a charming vista. :)

  2. As they always say, pictures are deceiving. They look better in pictures because of some alterations but above all, the real thing is more beautiful. I would love to own this postcard.

    That's a nice postcard you got. My PFF Entry is up. Come visit me some time. Thanks!

  3. I love the linen postcards. Easy travel by card! Thanks for the information about the book. NM Press is one my favorite university presses. Happy PFF.

  4. The card loos amazing, it looks like a painting to me


  5. Night views sound like a very interesting theme for postcards to collect! So photo touch ups are pretty much a normal thing way before Photoshop and other photo editing softwares came into being. Love the vintage postcards, they are a great collectors items!

  6. Probably the fountain doesn't look very real but it doesn't stop the card being a great one. We need to look on postcards as pieces of art in their own right.

  7. So many old postcards look fake, but I think we sort of ignore that fact. Buildings are a little too perfect, skies far more dramatic than normal. I've always enjoyed night scenes, but now this book has really sparked my interest. I have some other ones to share that really do show the extremes of photo manipulation long ago. Some are beautiful, others just make me laugh.

    I agree that they are an art form.

  8. It looks like unmolded Jello!

  9. Yes, it does look like jello! Perhaps to keep it running the government will need to privatize it with "Jello" written on the side.