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Oldest piece of aerial photography shot over Boston in 1860

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Oldest piece of aerial photography shot over Boston in 1860

An image of Boston is the oldest piece of aerial photography and it has been captured from a hot air balloon back in 1860.

Aerial photography is a very popular way of taking photos. It is worth mentioning that the current level of technology allows photographers to easily capture images from the sky.

Gaspard-Félix Tournachon is the first photographer to catch an image from the blue skies

However, it has not always been like this, considering the fact that the first airplane has successfully flown in late 1903. Before this era, people were already flying in hot air balloons and cameras existed, therefore the humanity saw the connection between the two and started shooting.

According to historians, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon has been the first man to take photos from the air. He was a France-based photographer, also known as Nadar by people of that time.

Earliest surviving aerial photograph
This is the oldest aerial photography, called “Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It”. Credits: James Wallace Black / Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Earliest surviving aerial photography creation has been captured over Boston in 1860

The French photographer used to capture photos from such flying crafts, but all of his aerial photographs have been destroyed or have been lost. This allowed James Wallace Black and Samuel Archer King to claim his crown.

James Wallace Black is known as a photographer who loved experimenting, while Samuel Archer King is regarded as one of the pioneers of hot air balloon flying.

The pair flew over Boston’s north end on October 13, 1860. They took an aerial image of the city, while the balloon was flying at an altitude of 630 meters.

Upon capturing a marvelous shot, J. W. Black called it “Boston, as the Eagle and the Wilde Goose See It”. Although the photographers were aware of his amazing image, he would have never thought it would become the earliest surviving piece of aerial photography.

More than 150 years have passed since this photo was captured. It lives on, thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as the first recorded aerial photograph.

People who are from Boston or just visiting the city on a regular basis may identify a couple of iconic landmarks in the image, such as the Trinity and Old South churches.

Boston from a Hot-Air Balloon aerial photograph
The only other remaining aerial photo from J. W. Black. It is called “Boston from a Hot-Air Balloon”. Credits: James Wallace Black / Metropolitan Museum of Art.

James Wallace Black returned to Boston’s skies and captured a photo from greater heaights

Black kept on experimenting with aerial photography. However, most of the images captured by him did not survive the time passing by. As such, only one more photo of poor quality can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Air.

The second image is pretty damaged, albeit taken from greater heights. It would have been very nice to have more aerial images, in order to see how older cities looked like, but our forefathers did not have our means of preserving photographic content.

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Oldest piece of aerial photography shot over Boston in 1860