Victorian magic lantern slides of New York

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These three magic lantern slides were made by York and Son of London, one of the UK’s finest Victorian manufacturers of photographic slides.

They were part of a set of slides about New York, one of many travelogue lectures produced by this company and were supplied with a script, known as a reading, that the lecturer would read as he showed the slides. The result was an evening of entertainment and education for self-improving Victorians. Actually, it was probably a small minority who would class this as a good night out, most people would, no doubt, rather be down the pub.

The points of interest would have been the scale of the city, the height of the skyscrapers and the uniformity of the buildings, unlike our higgledy-piggledy cities with architecture from different periods. (I haven’t said ‘higgledy-piggledy’ for a long time, I must do so more often.) Other slides from the lecture show close-up street scenes with streetcars and bustling thoroughfares, the striking modernity of which would have surprised and impressed Victorian audiences.

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The captions on these slides are New York south, east and north. Unfortunately we don’t where they were taken from but together they form a panoramic, high resolution, archival record of the City in the 1890s ….. wonderful!

So, to all of our dear friends across the pond, ”enjoy”, as you say there and we now say here. When I was a lad, we would say “I hope you really enjoy this” and Dickens would, of course, have used at least three sentences to say the same thing but at least it’s now not possible to abbreviate the sentiment any further, ‘though ‘nj’ might already be on its way over here! Anyway, thank you America for everything you’ve given us, including more concise ways to use our language.

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