Tag Archives: history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160-Year-Old Parisian Railway

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

By the Silent Line: Photographer Pierre Folk Spent Years Documenting a Vanishing 160 Year Old Parisian Railway trains Paris history

The Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture (French for “little belt railway”) was a 32 km railway that encirled Paris, connecting all the major railway stations within fortified walls during the Industrial Revolution. In service from 1852 to 1934, the line has now been completely abandoned for 80 years.

Several developers and local officials have recently set their sights on the vast swath of unused land, tunnels, and stations as an opportunity for new development. However, some railway enthusiasts and related organizations want the tracks and stations to be preserved indefinitely as part of the cities’ heritage. Others want to turn areas of de Petite Ceinture into parkways similar to the nearby Promenade plantée, a 4.7 km park built on an elevated train track in 1988 that later inspired New York’s famous High Line.

As part of his project “By the Silent Line,” photographer Pierre Folk has been working since 2011 to photograph the 160-year-old railway’s last remnants before any final decisions are made. He stalks the tracks at all times of the year, often returning to the same locations to document nature’s slow reclamation as rusted tracks and crumbling tunnels are swallowed by trees, vines, and grass. This is just a small selection of Folk’s work, you can see many more photos right here.

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Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

Eerie Photos of North Brother Island, the Last Unknown Place in New York City New York island history abandoned

How does an island in New York City’s East River go from being notoriously feared, almost 100 years ago, to being completely forgotten about today? That’s the story behind North Brother Island, the subject of photographer Christopher Payne’s new photo book.

A 10-minute boat ride from the Bronx’s Barretto Point Park, North Brother Island originally housed Riverside Hospital between the 1880s and 1930s. While in operation, the hospital served hundreds of patients who suffered from extremely communicable diseases, including smallpox, typhus, scarlet fever and even leprosy. It was also where “Typhoid Mary” was quarantined, and where she eventually died. In a 1935 profile for the New Yorker, the editor Stanley Walker described the island as “…a dismal spot. Sitting there, one may see, as the best view, the gas tanks on the Bronx shore. Now and then a ferryboat glides past. At night the dirty water of the East River laps against the rocks, making a messy, ghostly noise.”

The island’s facilities have since been decommissioned and the island itself abandoned since 1963. It sank into the depths of our memories until 2008, when Christopher Payne wrote a proposal to photograph and document the island in its current state. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation agreed, and thus began Payne’s expeditions, which would continue for the next 5 years. His stunning photographs are now available in his new book, “North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City.” (via Animal and Slate)

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non-Commercial Use

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
Kinder in einem Feriendorf / Martin Munkacsi / 1929

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released a vast archive of 400,000 (mostly) hi-resolution digital images online that you can download and use for non-commercial purposes. From a 12-megapixel scan of Rembrandt’s 1660 self-portrait to over 18,000 photos spanning almost two centuries. Here are a few quick gems from the Photography collection, see also: Arms & Armor, Modern and Contemporary Art, and other highlights. (via Kottke)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
Daughters of Jerusalem / Julia Margaret Camero / 1865

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
Head of Man with Hat and Cigar / Leon Levinstein / 1960

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
Isambard Kingdom Brunel Standing Before the Launching Chains of the Great Eastern / Robert Howlett / 1857

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
A Study, No. 1 / Rudolph Eickemeyer / 1901

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
Street Minstrel, Gose / Shinichi Suzuki / 1870s

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
Group of Thirteen Decapitated Soldiers / Unknown / 1910

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
Sincerely Yours, Woodrow Wilson / Arthur S. Mole / 1918

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white
A Girl, Carmel / Johan Hagemeyer / 1930.           Unidentified Child Picking Nose / Walker Evans / 1930.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non Commercial Use photography history black and white

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271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800 Page Book watercolor history color books

In 1692 an artist known only as “A. Boogert” sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors. Not only would he begin the book with a bit about the use of color in painting, but would go on to explain how to create certain hues and change the tone by adding one, two, or three parts of water. The premise sounds simple enough, but the final product is almost unfathomable in its detail and scope.

Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who translated part of the introduction, the color book was intended as an educational guide. The irony being there was only a single copy that was probably seen by very few eyes.

It’s hard not to compare the hundreds of pages of color to its contemporary equivalent, the Pantone Color Guide, which wouldn’t be published for the first time until 1963.

The entire book is viewable in high resolution here, and you can read a description of it here (it appears E-Corpus might have crashed for the moment). The book is currently kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France. (via Erik Kwakkel)

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Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish science plants nature history
La Llareta (up to 3,000 years old; Atacama Desert, Chile)

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish science plants nature history
Spruce Gran Picea #0909 – 11A07 (9,550 years old; Fulufjället, Sweden)

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish science plants nature history
Welwitschia Mirabilis #0707-22411 (2,000 years old; Namib-Naukluft Desert, Namibia)

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish science plants nature history
Antarctic Moss #0212-7B33 (5,500 years old; Elephant Island, Antarctica)

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish science plants nature history
Jōmon Sugi, Japanese Cedar #0704-002 (2,180-7,000 years old; Yakushima, Japan

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish science plants nature history
Underground Forest #0707-10333 (13,000 years old; Pretoria South Africa) DECEASED

Artist Rachel Sussman Photographs the Oldest Living Things in the World before They Vanish science plants nature history

Since 2004, Brooklyn-based contemporary artist Rachel Sussman has researched, collaborated with biologists, and braved some of the world’s harshest climates from Antarctica to the Mojave Desert in order to photograph the oldest continuously living organisms on Earth. This includes plants like Pando, the “Trembling Giant,” a colony of aspens in Utah with a massive underground root system estimated to be around 80,000 years old. Or the dense Llareta plants in South America that grow 1.5 centimeters anually and live over 3,000 years. This is the realm of life where time is measured in millennia, and where despite such astonishing longevity, ecosystems are now threatened due to climate change and human encroachment.

Sussman’s photographs have now been gathered together for the first time in The Oldest Living Things in the World, a new book published by the University of Chicago Press. Sitting at the intersection of art, science, and travelogue, the book details her adventures in tracking down each subject and relays the valuable scientific work done by scientists to understand them. It includes 124 photographs, 30 essays, infographics and forewords by Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Carl Zimmer.

You can learn more about Sussman’s project in her 2010 TED Talk. (via Hyperallergic)

Update: Rachel Sussman was just named a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow.

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The Mini Museum: A Desktop Museum with Dinosaur Fragments, Apollo 11 Spacecraft, the Moon, and More

The Mini Museum: A Desktop Museum with Dinosaur Fragments, Apollo 11 Spacecraft, the Moon, and More museums history

The Mini Museum: A Desktop Museum with Dinosaur Fragments, Apollo 11 Spacecraft, the Moon, and More museums history

For the past 35 years designer Hans Fex has been collecting some of the Earth’s most rare historical specimens including a fossil of a palm tree from Antarctica, wrap from a mummy, coal from the Titanic, dinosaur bones, and even a piece of the Apollo 11 command module. Working with specialists recommended by museum curators, research scientists and university historians, he has now amassed some 33 special objects that he’s broken down into tiny fragments and inserted into translucent resin case he calls the Mini Museum. Because the collected specimens are absurdly unique, the project is currently going crazy over on Kickstarter where you can see detailed information and photos of every single object appearing in the museum.

Some additional specimens include the foundation of Abraham Lincoln’s House, the Berlin Wall, the London Bridge, mammoth hair, 60 million year old insect amber, and part of a t-rex tooth.

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900-Year-Old Coded Viking Message Carved on Wood Fragment Finally Solved, It Says “Kiss Me” [Updated]

 900 Year Old Coded Viking Message Carved on Wood Fragment Finally Solved, It Says Kiss Me [Updated] wood Vikings history codes
Photo by Jonas Nordby via forskning.no

For the past several years researchers have been trying to crack a Viking rune alphabet known as Jötunvillur, a perplexing code dating back to the 11th or 12th century that’s been found in some 80 inscriptions including the scratched piece of wood found above. Recently runologist (!) Jonas Nordby from the University of Oslo managed to crack the code and discovered the secret message etched into this particular 900-year-old object reads “Kiss me.” Via Medievalists.net:

For the jötunvillur code, one would replace the original runic character with the last sound of the rune name. For example, the rune for ‘f’, pronounced fe, would be turned into an ‘e’, while the rune for ‘k’, pronounced kaun, became ‘n’.

“It’s like solving a puzzle,” said Nordby to the Norwegian website forskning.no. “Gradually I began to see a pattern in what was apparently meaningless combinations of runes.”

However, those thinking that the coded runes will reveal deep secrets of the Norse will be disappointed. The messages found so far seem to be either used in learning or have a playful tone. In one case the message was ‘Kiss me’. Nordby explains “We have little reason to believe that rune codes should hide sensitive messages, people often wrote short everyday messages.”

The act of coding secret messages appears to have been a leisure activity amongst the Vikings, as some of the other translated inscriptions turned out to be playful taunts at the person doing the decoding. The story was originally reported on forskning.no. (via Erik Kwakkel, Neatorama)

Update: Ida Kvittingen wrote to clarify several aspects of this piece that appears to have been lost in translation from the original article in Forskning.no. Specifically:

The inscription “kiss me” is NOT written using the jötunvillur code. This is a well-known code called cipher runes. Nordby did not crack this code, it was deciphered by others years ago. In my article, it is used as an example of how people often used codes in everyday messages. [...] Only 9 of the 80 or so runic writings that Nordby investigated are written using the jötunvillur code.

For further information you can see more the article in an English version on ScienceNordic.

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