The information in Postcards of the Night: Views of American Cities becomes even more interesting as I look through my collection of vintage postcards. I start to find examples of what the author writes about.

Denver by night postcard_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.
"Most nighttime postcard views were daytime photographs doctored to appear as if taken after dark. Use of daytime photos to replicate the night introduced many anomalies in finished cards. For example, daytime shadows often remained. When a bright moon was inserted in a darkened sky, the moonlight implied was often inappropriate to the shadows depicted. Especially problematical were the small shadows cast by pedestrians and vehicles, their impossibility of angle all too apparent. As one deltiologist noted: “Darkening the sky, lighting the windows, and adding a moon could…turn a day scene into a nocturnal one, but all to often the printer failed to remove the shadows cast by the sun and then tipped his moon in an obviously impossible position (Ryan 146). Other anomalies included American flags left flying (countering prohibitions on after-dark flag displays) and kinds of people remaining as pedestrians, especially unescorted women, who would not have been seen in big city downtown after dark." (SOURCE: Postcards of the Night: Views of American Cities)
And this is another card from the Harry Heye Tammen Company. Note the little Mesoamerican figure on the back, the companies logo.

back of Denver card_tatteredandlost

Now take a moment to look at this busy "night scene" and tell me if you think this was actually day for night. I'm seeing far too many women out for leisurely strolls.

Denver street_tatteredandlost

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1 comment:

  1. Yup. So am I. I prefer the night scenes that do not show any figures at all, whether or not there's a moon is problematic. One particular card which I sort of fell in love with is a moonlit scene of Old Faithful - in the winter, with snow on the Old Faithful Inn. Simple beauty.