How to Read a Neighborhood
April 13, 2016 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Dating Historic Images A key to using clues in photos to narrow down the date of construction for historic vernacular architecture, from University of Vermont's Landscape Change digital image project.

*Not that kind of dating.
posted by Miko (11 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
Most of us know how to do this for a period we lived through, and do it automatically when watching a movie set in the recent past and the set dressers get something wrong. "Why is that American kid wearing Doc Martens in 1972?"
posted by benito.strauss at 10:08 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Like all sensible people, i cherish historic residential architecture. One learns to "do" a lot of the techniques in the OP with experience and time, but having all this as a resource in one place is truly fantastic. Will be sharing this far and wide.
posted by resurrexit at 10:16 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


No thanks, I'm married!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:18 AM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Most of us know how to do this for a period we lived through, and do it automatically when watching a movie set in the recent past and the set dressers get something wrong. "Why is that American kid wearing Doc Martens in 1972?"

I used to work in a place where I taught a lot of maritime history, and would tell people that had we lived there in the 19th century, by the age of five we'd have no problem telling a bark from barkentine from a schooner from a sloop from a full-rigged ship...something which it takes a lot of practice to do automatically now.

My dad always impresses my by calling out the make and model of vintage cars from the 50s and 60s. No problem for him.
posted by Miko at 11:02 AM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Most of us know how to do this for a period we lived through, and do it automatically

My wife makes me be quiet through The Goldbergs because I was raised on 1980s pop culture and instinctively call out anacronistic collisions. "They're going to the opening of Movie A, and dancing to a song off Album B -- but Movie A came out in 1983, and Album B came out in 1987!" *wife rolls eyes, kicks me* "Those GI Joe toys are painted with the 1990s patterns. That handheld Football electronic game has the labels from the retro-styled-release from a couple years ago." *wife leaves the room*
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:53 AM on April 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm always thinking about this stuff, wondering about details on building and so on, while out walking! So lovely.
posted by epersonae at 12:44 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Interesting that this is part of the geology department and not the historic preservation department (from which I graduated a zillion years ago. )
posted by vespabelle at 1:01 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


On a project of mine I've been dealing with a lot of historic photos from 1870-1920, and just in staring at them and zooming into the smallest details I've developed a coarse eye for quick dating based on fashion and architecture, but this resource is fantastic. You should have shared this months ago, Miko!
posted by barnacles at 8:36 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Super cool link, Miko! I noticed it didn't just cover architecture, but clothing and hairstyles, as well. We've come across undated photos from time to time in our research. There's a couple portraits that come to mind, and gosh it would be useful to figure out when they were taken.
posted by teponaztli at 1:44 AM on April 14, 2016


You should have shared this months ago, Miko!

I just found it! Someone on Facebook posted an intriguing photo of my hometown and people were trying to figure out when it was taken. I found myself mulling over when fire hydrants and curb cuts and so forth were introduced. It's a great resource, though, and as you say teponatzli, I gave short shrift to its usefulness for dating photos of people, too.
posted by Miko at 6:30 AM on April 14, 2016


This is wonderful! Thank you.
posted by Princess Leopoldine Grassalkovich nee Esterhazy at 7:32 PM on April 14, 2016


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