Stereographs (or stereopticon pictures) were a popular approach to 3D images from c1850 to World War 1.
The pictures shown here date from perhaps 1878*
to c1890. While they are not now visually thrilling to us,
they offer a glimpse of altered street-scapes with long-gone buildings and changes in fashion in both architecture
and clothing styles. Click on the SLIDESHOW!
link to browse through the images.
- Townspeople outside the Jefferson House -- what would they say about OUR clothes? Most of the men wore vests. Every one of the 25 men and boys were wearing hats. There were 17 businesses within one block. The streets are dirt and cobblestone.
- All but one of the buildings on the waterfront above Harmony are now gone.
- The view of the
New Castle from the water below Harmony shows just how much of the lots have been filled in. The Dutch Tile house (destroyed in 1884) can be glimpsed between buildings in this picture as well as from the corner of The Strand and Harmony taken after a flood.
- The very ornate Victorian interiors of
Immanuel Church and the
gothic Presbyterian Church and and the Read House. The style was overwhelmingly rejected beween 1900 and 1950 in favor of Colonial Revival. In the case of the Immanuel interior, the criticisms were quite vehement.
- Many of the buildings pictured which originally had exposed brick surfaces were covered by stucco during the
Greek Revival period (1830-1850). The stucco has been removed in recent years.
- The picture of 2nd street includes at the back of the Town Hall the town market (not exactly like Reading Market in Philadelphia! New Castles was sold for $75 in 1881 for demolition) and a large store across the street.
- The horse and carriage pulling up to 19 E 2nd St,
- The RURAL New Castle train station
* Date disclaimer
When were they taken, and by whom?
With the exception of the picture of Delaware Street at The Strand, none of the pictures had dates on them when they were acquired
by the Delaware Public Archives or Delaware Historical Society.
As described in "Ask Caesar"
annotation of the sterocard collection, that picture came from the Bullock collection and was probably produced by Joseph Maybin whose shop was on Market Street in Wilmington from 1866-1887.
However we can infer an approximate date of 1878 for several of the pictures. For example the picture of The Strand, above.
shows the Dutch Tile House, with the numbers "1687" on the front. This building was in bad shape before it was torn down in 1884,
so this picture must be earlier. The note on the back "cor. after the flood" and
driftwood at the corner suggested to Randy Goss at the Archives that it may have been after a hurricane.
In a list of all hurricanes in Delaware from 1850 to 1900, the only major one in the fall was on October, 1878.
of this hurricane states "In New Castle, houses were blown down and unroofed, trees
hurled to the ground, shutters and windows blown off, and chimneys,
awnings, and signs mutilated. Two brick stables were
destroyed. Four of the houses on the upper part of Market Street
were carried fully a mile and a half inland by the sudden rise of the
Delaware River. The banks were broken all along the riverfront."
So this picture MAY have been take after the Oct. 1878 hurricane. The Tile House is
also seen in between the two buildings to the right in the picture of the Strand below Harmony, so that picture, and the one of the Strand above Harmony both must be before 1884. Since the
Tile House is in substantially better shape than one taken in 1884 just before its demolition, we can speculate that it may have been taken c1880.
The picture of 2nd street includes the town market which was torn down March 1, 1881
The color difference between the photos from the Delaware Public Archives and the Delaware Historical Society is an artifact resulting from different scanners being used.