In order to include this kind of information in the catalogue, it is necessary, of course, for me as the cataloguer to understand exactly what I am looking at so that my descriptions orient the viewer spatially as well as historically. I might rely on any number of secondary sources to find information about the location depicted. But the most essential tool for understanding the Aero Service negatives is the ability to employ Google Maps to compare aerial views of what is pictured ca. 1920s-1930s versus what an area looks like currently. Aero Service images are often of something big and recognizable, such a bridge. But understanding these images also includes recognizing features such as the curve of a road or a bend in the river, to match those unchanging (or slower-changing) features of the land. It is this comparison of “then vs. now” that makes cataloging this collection interesting and relevant for any number of reasons.
Take a look at some of these then-and-now comparisons of Aero Service negatives showing construction of Philadelphia area bridges and try to identify what has changed in the past 90 years:
|Tacony-Palmyra Bridge construction, Tacony, Philadelphia, 1928. (P.8990.8496)|
|Google Maps view of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge captured October 11, 2016.|
University Avenue Bridge under construction, connecting the Grays Ferry and West Philadelphia neighborhoods, Philadelphia. 1932. (P.8990.15778n): In the images below, the bend in the river becomes the geographic feature that allows for identification of the University Avenue Bridge in-the-making. Notice the development that has taken place on the "peninsula" that is labeled as "Forgotten Bottom" in the Google Maps view.
|University Avenue Bridge under construction, connecting the Grays Ferry and West Philadelphia neighborhoods, Philadelphia. 1932. (P.8990.15778n)|
|Google Maps view of the University Avenue Bridge captured October 11, 2016.|
Pennsylvania Railroad, Manayunk Bridge, Spanning Schuylkill River & Green Lane, Manayunk, Philadelphia. ca. 1928 (P.8990.8844): This view showing the Manayunk bridge construction almost at completion. The shapes created by both bridges make this area easy to identify on Google Maps. But what is perhaps more interesting are the somewhat ramshackle strip of row houses and other development in the lower right corner, all of which was likely lost during the creation of the Schuylkill Expressway, if not before.
|Pennsylvania Railroad, Manayunk Bridge, Spanning Schuylkill River & Green Lane, Manayunk, Philadelphia. ca. 1928 (P.8990.8844)|
|Google Maps view of the Pennsylvania Railroad and Manayunk Bridges captured October 11, 2016.|
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