Book Review – Historic Photos of Columbus

I recently got an email from Turner Publishing about this book, shortly after I had written about the Ghost tour and learning about the history of Columbus. Being a photo junkie and a bit of a history nut, I naturally couldn’t turn down an offer of a free copy of this book in exchange for a review on the blog.

Historic Photos of Columbus is a collection of photos, mostly from the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Biography, History and Travel Division. In fact, the author, Nick Taggert, works in that division of the Library. It is one in the series of Historic Photos titles that Turner Publishing has put out representing many cities.

The book is divided into 4 sections, 1812-1897, 1898-1913, 1914-1930 and finally 1931-1970. The photos are a rich collection of the times they represent. Not only do you see plenty of historical, important buildings, but you also get to see simple markets, how the methods of transportation changed, how the city grew and changed, and even get to appreciate some of the older buildings that are still standing, and how they’ve changed over the years.

You’ll see photos from the 1913 flood, Lincoln’s body laying in rest in the Statehouse, Armistice Day, the return of soldiers from WWI, Presidential campaign stops, and of course, Ohio State.

Even though some of the older photos lack in quality, (Due to time, equipment, etc.) they still give you a real impression of the times, and the captions do a great job of explaining where the photo was taken, which then allows you to compare it to today. The photos of the Scioto River banks downtown prior to the 1913 flood themselves offer a stark contrast to what we see there now. That’s just one example of being able to imagine how the city looked then, and how it’s changed over the years. The electric streetcars, the lighted arches over High Street, (The original ones, not the ones the city recently built! *L*) the old Union Station, and even the streets around the Statehouse all offer a great view of Columbus on a timeline.

On another front, as someone who has worked in some capacity with Columbus Metropolitan Library staff in the past, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see some of the many great things they’ve collected over the years about Columbus become more publicly accessible like this. They do such tremendous work, and are so dedicated to keeping local history alive, that I’m sure they love this book being available.

Like I said, for someone with an interest in Photography and History, with ties to Columbus , this would be a great pickup or a great gift!

I do have to ding the book just a little bit though. When I first received my copy in the mail, one of the first things I did was see if there was a photo of the Old Post Office and Federal Courthouse that sits on the corner of 3rd and State. I have an extra personal interest in that building, because I work in it every day, and I know there are plenty of photos of it throughout history because we have some of them hanging up. We are very proud of the building, and I consider it to be one of the highlights of downtown Columbus. Sure enough, on page 106, there’s a photo of it dating back to 1908, which was before the addition was built, and long before the more recent renovations, but it’s recognizable as the same building. The caption correctly identifies the building, and correctly identifies that there was an addition built shortly after the photo. It even correctly identifies that it is currently the home of law offices, however the name of the firm is misspelled! D’oh!

Despite this minor detail, I enjoyed leafing through the book, and learned more about Columbus and it’s history through these photos than I knew before. I highly recommend it!

Technorati Tags: ColumbusOhio, HistoricPhotos, History

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