Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Olivetti on a Pedestal in New Orleans

New Orleans architect Charles Colbert (1921-2007) designed this structure at 1900 Canal Street as a showroom for the Olivetti Typewriter Company in 1966. Employing oil field pipes as sculptural elements, Colbert created an International Style jewel box with syncopated adornment. In this view, Olivetti-Underwood typewriters are displayed sitting on top of pipes of varying heights.

From the 1940s-1970s, the Italian-based Olivetti Typewriter Company was renowned for its design. It purchased the American Underwood Typewriter Company in 1959, and merged completely to form Olivetti-Underwood in 1963.

The company's offices and showrooms frequently exalted modernist architecture, furniture and its painting collection. Carlo Scarpa designed the Olivetti Showroom in Venice's Piazzo San Marco (1956-1958), Kenzo Tange the Olivetti Technical Centre and Warehouse in Yokoama, Tokoyo (1970), and James Stirling the Olivetti Training Centre in Haslemere, Surrey (U.K., 1973).
Olivetti's Paris shop was adorned with Paul Klee's Spettro di guerriero (1930); the Rome shop on Via del Tritone with Renato Guttuso's Boogie-Woogie (1953).

Olivetti's most famous typewriter models were the Lexikon 80, designed by Marcello Nizzoli (1887-1969) in 1948 and the Olivetti Valentine, designed by Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) in 1970. Bauhaus-educated graphic designer Herbert Bayer (1900-1985), in collaboration with the Milanese Industrie Grafiche N. Moneta, developed innovative posters for Olivetti in the 1950s. American poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) used an Olivetti, as did Nobel-prize winning German author and playwright Günter Grass (b. 1927).

Flickr user Margnac has created a photo set of views of the Ivrea Olivetti factory (1966-1971). The company no longer makes typewriters, but has garnered international attention for its funding of Renaissance art restorations, including the conservation of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper and Andrea Mantegna's Camera degli Sposi. Colbert's structure, occupied by Olivetti through the mid-1970s, currently houses Weiser Security Services, Inc., private investigators, but is threatened by the proposed LSU/VA Medical Corridor.

[Photo: By Frank Lotz Miller as it appears in Charles Colbert: Architect.Planner, c. 1971. Collection of the Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.]

Internships in Art, Architecture and Design Libraries

The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS-NA) maintains an Internship Roster of opportunities in Canada, Mexico and the United States. For those interested in pursuing work in Fine Arts archives or libraries, such internships are invaluable experiences. On an annual basis, ARLIS-NA offers an Internship Award, which funds such an endeavor for a selected student currently enrolled in, or having completed within the last 12 months, a graduate program in library science, art history, studio art or museum studies

Friday, July 25, 2008

Decoding Plans I: Electrical Symbols

Pencil Points (January 1924) published its "Standard Symbols for Wiring Plans" that were recommended and adopted by the American Institute of Architects (A.I.A.), the Association of Electragists (A.E.I.), and the American Institute of Electrical Engineering (A.I.E.E.) Standards Committee on 6 March 1924. For those interested in decoding the symbology of early twentieth-century plans, this may help. As new units and circuitry developed throughout the late twenties and early thirties, professional architects recommended new symbols. These included designations for early HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems and radio aerial outlets. American Architect developed these tentative symbols as part of its Time-Saver Standards (December 1935).

ARTstor Announces Charles Moore Foundation Partnership

Announced 24 July 2008:

The Charles Moore Foundation has partnered with ARTstor to digitize and make available approximately 50,000 images depicting works of architecture designed by Charles W. Moore (1925–1993), architect and author.

A prolific architect with an international following, Moore completed hundreds of commissions and established architecture firms in California, Connecticut, and Texas. Among scores of houses, churches, museums, educational buildings, and public places, his most notable projects include: the Sea Ranch Condominium (MLTW, 1962–65); the Faculty Club at the University of California, Santa Barbara (MLTW:Moore/Turnbull, 1966–68); Kresge College at the University of California, Santa Cruz (MLTW:Moore/Turnbull, 1972–74); and the Piazza d’Italia in New Orleans (with August Perez & Associates, 1978).

For more detailed information about this collection, visit the Charles Moore Archive page.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Prefabrication and New Orleans

The Museum of Modern Art just opened its new exhibition, Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling (July 20-October 20 2008). The curators have developed a very informative website that includes a timeline of prefabricated housing and archival footage of American mass production beginning with Henry Ford's Model-T (1908). One of the contemporary projects featured in the Museum's Fifty-fourth Street lot is the Larry Sass/MIT Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans, a 196-square-foot shotgun house that implements laser-cut joinery. The prefabrication, comprised of some 600 plywood and plastic sheets, is documented in stages on YouTube.

Noted New Orleans architectural historian Samuel Wilson, Jr. (1911-1993) wrote that as early as 1849, documents in the city's notarial archives made mention of prefabrication, in portable ready-made structures of canvas and cement. The Paris Universal Exposition of 1867 featured a "demountable" cypress Louisiana Cottage fabricated by the local Roberts and Company, which once occupied 299-307 Gravier Street. To read Wilson's article in The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians [22:1 March 1963 pp. 38-39], consult JSTOR.

In 1935 New Orleans, concrete was being explored as a new material for affordable residential housing. The Lone Star Cement Corp., a subsidiary of International Cement Corp., approached the local firm of Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth with a commission to design a $10,000 concrete house. The so-called Lone Star Home, located at 5500 S. Claiborne Avenue, was erected in nine successive concrete pours with patented metal forms and was featured in both American Architect (January 1936) and Pencil Points (March 1936). For current photographs of the house, see TSA Visual Resources Curator Francine Stock's flickr Regional Modernism set.

In the late 1940s, the New Orleans-based Higgins Incorporated began to develop its own method, what came to be patented as the Thermo-Con Cellular Concrete System. Its concrete was an ambiguous admixture of Portland Cement, water, and "three chemicals." The company's advertising department took pains to communicate the product's heat-shielding properties (left) and to distinguish its approach from any correlation to prefabrication:

The Thermo-Con cellular concrete system is in no way a pre-fabricated construction method. The forms are designed on a one-foot modular principle and can be arranged to fit any desired plan for a home or commercial building. Any architectural style may be chosen and interior space arranged to suit individual needs.

The Southeastern Architectural Archive maintains project drawings for the Lone Star Home in its Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth Collection. Higgins company advertising brochures for "Thermo-Con" cellular concrete are located in the SEAA's Trade Catalogs Collection, Box 7.

Image: "Concrete Evidence" of heat-resistance of Thermo-Con Cellular Concrete. Photograph of a model's face being shielded from an active oxyacetelene torch by a Higgins Inc. concrete slab. From Higgins Inc. Booklet 72, SEAA.

At Large in the Archive

The architecture periodical Pencil Points (1920-1942) included in each issue a regular book review column titled "At Large in the Library." Reviews focused on everything from the mundane (standard plumbing fixtures, engineering terminology, use of gypsum) to the sublime (architectural utopianism) and were written by article contributors. Taking that as my model, from this point forward, I will periodically feature a recommended book, either one available in the TSA Library ("At Large in the Library") or in the Southeastern Architectural Archive ("At Large in the Archive").

A Story of Accomplishment 1866-1916. [New York: Sanborn Map Company, c. 1916].SEAA Reference G1204 .A4 S35

Sanborn fire insurance maps are of course a vital resource to anyone interested in the history of urban planning and architecture, for they indicate location and size of buildings, construction materials, fenestration, function and occupancy. This corporate history presents a history of fire insurance maps as a whole, tracing their origins to British tithe maps. It describes Sanborn's production model, from the surveying work, to the draughtsmanship, to the lithography, hand-coloring, mounting to canvas and binding. It further addresses the process of making revisions, and the tedious printing and adhering of correction "pasters." The book's anonymous author recounts the use of Sanborn Maps by insurance companies, municipalities, and utilities companies. Profusely illustrated with photogravures of company headquarters, printing plants, and employees.

[Pictured Above: Detail of Key of Signs Bound Maps, 1916. Illustration from A Story of Accomplishment 1866-1916, n.p. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries].
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Gus Mayer Company, Ltd. 800-804 Canal Street

Gus Mayer Company Ltd. was a Birmingham-based department store specializing in women's and children's ready-to-wear. Its New Orleans flagship (currently being revamped into a CVS Pharmacy) was located on the corner of Canal and Carondelet Streets, from 1949-1987. The department store maintained its Canal Street presence for nearly ninety years: from at least 1900 an earlier Gus Mayer Co. store had been across the street at Number 823, although it eventually came to extend through Number 827.

The New Orleans firm of Favrot and Reed designed the Moderne structure at 800 Canal, which was constructed during the latter half of 1948. They were an active firm along this mercantile artery, having been responsible for the Joy Theater (1200 Canal, 1946); a four-story brick building at 1024-1026 Canal (1935); and the Singer Sewing Machine Company (4176 Canal, 1949).

Images of the 1948 Mayer construction site may be found in the LOUISiana Digital Library. Frank Lotz Miller (1923-1993) photographs of the Women's Department may be found in the Southeastern Architectural Archive's Curtis and Davis Collection, Box 3. Plans are located in the New Orleans Public Library. City directories and Sanborn maps maintained in the Southeastern Architectural Archive are beneficial in tracing construction and business listings at a particular street location.

[Photograph: Favrot and Reed, Gus Mayer Company, Ltd. Sans Serif Monumental Stone Lettering Viewed from Carondelet at Canal Street, New Orleans, constructed 1948. K. Rylance 07.2008]

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where Was It? Girod Street Cemetery

The Girod Street Cemetery (1822-1957) was located between Freret and Liberty Streets, and between Cypress and Perilliat Streets in what is now New Orleans Central Business District (CBD). During the first half of the twentieth century, the cemetery fell into disrepair and an overgrowth of vegetation. In 1957, the cemetery was deconsecrated, bodies were exhumed and removed to other locations, and eventually new buildings were constructed on the site: notably, the Curtis and Davis Superdome (1970-1975) and also Dominion Tower (1989), which is currently being considered for redevelopment as New Orleans Centre.

In August 1948, former Zulu Mardi Gras King Joseph J. Smith was interred in a baby blue coffin in Girod Cemetery, following a half-mile-long second line. For more on the history of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, click here. Many benevolent aid societies maintained so-called "society" tombs in Girod Cemetery: the Sobriety Benevolent Aid Society, the Home Missionary Benevolent Society, Male and Female Lutheran Benevolent Society, and the New Lusitanos Benevolent Association. Society tombs frequently bore names bestowed upon them by their organizations. One of my favorites is "Wide Awake Benevolent Society."

The records for Girod Cemetery are maintained in the Special Collections Division of Tulane University Libraries, located in Jones Hall 200, 6801 Freret Street. Local historian Leonard Huber (1903-1984), who extensively researched the city's cemeteries for his book New Orleans Architecture: The Cemeteries (Gretna: Pelican, 1974), also donated his records to the Special Collections Division.

[Image above: E[lisha] Robinson and R[oger] H. Pidgeon. Robinson's Atlas of the City of New Orleans, Louisiana. New York: E. Robinson, 1883]. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries].
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Architecture Directories, Portals and Dictionaries Online

An international architecture database incorporating information related to some 18,000 built and unbuilt projects, with greatest concentration related to 20th-century architecture.

Cyburbia: Urban Planning Community
Portal and forum website for an international community of urban planners. Users need to create an account and password for participation.

An open platform that allows users to contribute information (including images) related to any building, with worldwide coverage. Basic information is publicly available for free, but a subscription may be required for more detail. The database can be searched by building or by city.

Glossary of Preservation Terms
Dictionary of select subject terms developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation Library (NTL).

Great Buildings
A gateway to international architecture that includes timelines of architects and major monuments, bibliographies, maps, and web links.

INTUTE: Arts and Humanities
Based in the United Kingdom, INTUTE is a free online directory to more than 21,000 web resources.

Oxford Art Online [click on "Grove Dictionary of Art Online" TULANE subscription database]
Access to Grove Dictionary of Art, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and The Concise Dictionary of Art Terms. Great resource if you want information about a historical style, biography of an architect, definition of architectural terminology.

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
An extensive portal with links to exhibitions, events, book reviews and access to RIBApix, a visual database of photographs, drawings and engravings.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I remember reading somewhere years ago that regardless of variant sociocultural backgrounds, young children will represent "house" in very similar ways.

I wonder if that is really true?

To read list: Martin Krampen, Children's Drawings: Iconic Coding of the Environment. New York: Springer, 1991.

Krampen analyzes and compares iconic representations of buildings drawn by Turkish and German children.

Above are drawings by three children (one colorblind) raised in North Dakota, two from the early 1970s and one from the early 1980s. Maybe that's why it looks as though a strong wind is blowing from the Northwest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Finding Articles about Architecture

Here is a list of recommended Tulane subscription databases for finding articles about architecture:

Art Abstracts [EBSCOhost] (1984-present)
A bibliographic database that cites articles from more than 300 journals published worldwide. Coverage includes yearbooks and museum bulletins. It also includes abstracting for illustrations (non-text) that appear in journals.

Art Retropective [Wilson Web] (1929-1984)
Includes indexing for over 71 journals devoted to architecture. Best for historical subjects.

ARTBibliographies Modern [ILLUMINA/PROQUEST]
An abstracting database that is a wonderful resource for modern and contemporary fine arts/architecture. Includes dissertation abstracts and museum exhibitions.

Arts and Humanities Citation Index [ISI Web of Knowledge]
Current and retrospective bibliographic information and cited references found in nearly 1,130 national and international arts and humanities journals.

The Avery Index surveys over 2500 national and international journals covering architecture, city planning, landscape architecture, historic preservation, interior design, and urban planning. Although Avery includes citations dating from the 1700s, its indexing is best for the last twenty years. The University of California-Berkeley's Environmental Design Library has created a four-minute tutorial video on using the Avery Index.

GEOBase [FirstSearch]
Good for those searching for tectonics/environmental/green issues. International in scope.

GreenFILE [EBSCOhost]
Covers all aspects of human impact to the environment.

Historical Newspapers [PROQUEST]
Offers full-text of the following papers: NY Times, NY Tribune, Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Daily World, Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post , LA Times, Guardian, Observer, Pittsburgh Courier, NY Amsterdam News, LA Sentinel. The New York, Chicago, London, and Los Angeles papers are especially strong for articles about architecture and urban planning.

History of Science, Technology and Medicine [FirstSearch]

Interested in earthquake-resistant engineering? The historical relationship between architecture and mathematics?

Hospitality and Tourism Index [EBSCOhost]
Interested in the construction of museums, cultural sites (including public parks), motels, resorts, golf courses? International in scope.

Humanities Full Text [Wilson Web]
Interested in the philosophy of architecture? Psychological aspects of architecture? The history of western architecture?

Boasting full-text access to over twenty-two journals devoted to landscape/architecture/architectural history, JSTOR is especially fruitful for the historically-inclined.

Kluwer Online [SpringerLink]
Growing collection of over 2000 full-text titles associated with architecture. Most are digitized chapters or parts of texts, and inclusions are especially strong for European publications focused on modernist architecture (esp. International Style).

LexisNexis Academic
Access to U.S. and international publications, especially newspapers. Very good for finding articles related to urban development, as well as business, legal, and political aspects of architecture and sustainability. Includes The Times Picayune from 1993.

Periodicals Archive Online [PROQUEST]
Growing archive of digitized articles. Journal coverage includes: Archivo español de arte, The Art Bulletin, The Art Journal, The Structurist.

Ulrich's Periodicals Directory
Includes indexing/abstracts for international publications related to architecture, structural engineering, and environmental studies.

Urban Studies Abstracts [EBSCOhost]
Coverage includes urban affairs, community development, and urban history.

The Grammar of Ornament

The Welsh architect Owen Jones (1809-1874) went on the Grand Tour through Spain, Turkey, Egypt and Sicily as a twenty-two-year-old. He became fascinated with architectural ornamentation, and recorded the patterns and colors he saw during his travels. When he returned to England, Jones sought a printer who could accurately reproduce his sketches; finding none, he established his own printing shop and became one of the most revered chromolithographers of his day. His books, The Grammar of Ornament (1856) and Details and Ornaments from the Alhambra (1835-1845), frequently formed part of a late nineteenth-century architect's working library. The American architect Harvey Ellis (1852-1904) relied heavily on Jones-ian ornamentation for his decoration of the Mabel Tainter Memorial (1889), a Richardsonian Romanesque building located in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

For those interested in knowing more about Owen Jones, see Kathryn Ferry's article, "Printing the Alhambra: Owen Jones and Chromolithography," Architectural History 46 (2003): 175-188. Architectural History is available through JSTOR and in the TSA Library Periodicals Section (NA190.A72).

Tulane University's Special Collections Division, located in 200 Jones Hall, retains a first edition copy of The Grammar of Ornament.

[Pictured above: Owen Jones, ""Persian Ornament" page from The Grammar of Ornament. London: Bernard Quartich, 1910. Donated to the Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries, by John Geiser III].

Monday, July 14, 2008

American Architect in the Public Domain

Looking for full-text copies of the periodical The American Architect, the journal first published in 1876 under the name The American Architect and Building News? Although the journal changed names a number of times, it continued to be published until 1938, when it was subsumed by The Architectural Record. There are some persistent copies of complete issues available online (sporadic coverage 1878-1922), through the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg and accessible via the University of Pennsylvania's Online Books Page. Partial sets of The Builder (1843-1852) and House and Garden (1911-1922) are also available via UPenn's serials portal.

The Southeastern Architectural Archive holds physical copies of The American Architect, with coverage dating from 1876-1905.


In the past four months, the School of Architecture Library has benefited from the contributions of other art/design libraries to replace missing issues of periodicals. Many of these issues were those not received immediately following Hurricane Katrina. With thanks to the following libraries for making their duplicates available to Tulane University:

The Gund Library of the Cleveland Institute of Art (OH)

Pratt Institute Libraries (NY)

Savannah College of Art and Design Library (GA)

The University of Hartford (CT) Libraries

Friday, July 11, 2008

Architectural Art and Its Allies

During the early twentieth century, the Louisiana Architectural Association published a monthly journal titled Architectural Art and Its Allies (1906-1913). The publication committee included leading New Orleans architects General Allison Owen, C.A. Favrot and Sam Stone. The journal's November 1906 issue featured New Orleans General Superintendent of the Sewerage and Water Board George G. Earl's article "Drainage and Sewerage," accompanied with photographs and maps of drainage power stations and sewerage pumping stations. His Map of the City of New Orleans System of Drainage (p.7) is reproduced here, with existing and proposed drainage canals indicated on the key. By the end of 1908 Earl anticipated that some $17,000,000 would have been spent on the combined drainage, sewerage and water proposals.

The New Orleans Public Library has created an online index to Architectural Art and Its Allies and its predecessor, Architecture and Allied Arts (1905-1906). The indexing is partial: it does not include advertisements, letters to the editor, and the bulk of the articles addressing topics outside of Louisiana. Sometimes article illustrations appeared on later pages of the given issue (not co-mingled with the text they illustrate) and these instances were not accounted for by the indexers. Researchers can still browse through the issues: NOPL maintains microfilm copies; the Southeastern Architectural Archive retains originals. For those reading today's headlines about the Recovery School District (RSD) and Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) plans for rebuilding the city's schools, note that many of E.A. Christy's projects are illustrated in this journal.

The Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans recently released its 2007 Report on Water Quality in the city. The Mississippi River is the primary source for the city's water, with treatment plants located on both banks, one in Algiers and one at Carrollton. The report includes a diagram of the water purification process, as well as data on tested contaminants.

[Pictured above: George G. Earl, Map of the City of New Orleans Showing System of Drainage. Sewerage and Water Board, New Orleans, 1906, Drawing No. 982-B-7. As reproduced in Architectural Art and Its Allies II:5 (November 1906), p.7. Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries].

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Finding Digitized Historic Photographs II

Finding Digitized Historic Images of Regional Architecture
As promised in my earlier post, I have some suggestions for finding digital reproductions of historic photographs recording the built environment of the Gulf Region. Many of the general sites mentioned in my earlier post are also applicable. In addition to the Historic American Buildings Survey images linked here, the Library of Congress also retains WPA and FSA records. Getty Images has some stellar reproductions of 1950s-60's era photographs of Moisant International Airport in New Orleans and of Florida resorts/motels.

Before naming specific websites, I should address my use of "regional" architecture: here I am using the Southeastern Architectural Archive's collecting areas of the Gulf Region states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Our most comprehensive holdings relate to greater New Orleans, so on this blog I will primarily focus on the Crescent City, but here are some great sources for digital reproductions of photographs of the region's built environment:

Architecture and Interior Design for 20th-Century America
Part of the Library of Congress American Memory Project... photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner, 1935-1955.

Auburn University Digital Library
See for example their collection of postcards.

Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections

Built in America: HABS/HAER
Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record maintained by Library of Congress, with records from 1933-present.

GALILEO, The Digital Library of Georgia
See, for example, the Georgia Design Guidelines (urban planning) and Hubert Bond Owens and John Linley Image Collections at the Owens Library (historic architecture and landscapes).

Key West Public Library Digital Collections

The Monroe County Florida Public Library System maintains a growing digital collection: includes images of historic structures in Marathon, and the Dale McDonald Collection.

LOUISiana Digital Library

Mississippi Digital Library

New Orleans Public Library Photographs Arranged by Street Names

Publication of Archival Library and Museum Materials (PALMM)
For Florida, created by a consortium of the state university libraries.

University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
The Sydnia Keene Smyth Collection focuses on Antebellum Architecture of Tuscaloosa.

Field Trip: Cullman, Alabama

In the early 1930s Benedictine monk Joseph Zoettel (1878-1961) began constructing the expansive Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama on the grounds of St. Bernard Abbey. Receiving donated materials from other countries, Zoettel created over 125 miniature models of architectural monuments, including the Basilica of St. Peter's in Vatican City. Relying on photographs and small tourist statuettes of the structures, the shrine builder had little sense of scale relationships (notice the coliseum to the right and behind St. Peter's). He populated his grottoes with the characters of his Bavarian childhood: dragons, fairies, gnomes, and even Hansel and Gretel.

[Lomograph: Joseph Zoettel's Ave Maria Grotto, St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, AL, built circa 1933-1958. 11-2005 by K. Rylance]

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Finding Digitized Historic Photographs

The topic frequently comes up on the Art Librarians of North America List (ARLIS/NA): What are the best places for finding digital reproductions of historic photographs? I thought I would cover this general topic in one post, and post another set of suggestions specific to researching regional architecture.

New York Public Library Digital Collections
NYPL has been setting the standard lately. They were amongst the first to make their digital reproductions available without watermarks and are continually raising the bar and adding more images.

The Open Archives Initiative is a Metadata Harvester developed by the clever folks at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign. Users can limit search by research type "IMAGE" and uncover photographs hidden in the "deep web," outside the attentions of Internet search engines.

Available by subscription to Tulane faculty, staff, and students, ARTstor is a digital library of over 700,000 images. One of the downsides of its scale is that image quality varies significantly. Includes the Archivision collections of 28,000 professional photographs of the built environment.

Wisconsin Historical Images
Why would I recommend Wisconsin for general digital photograph images? Well, the Wisconsin Historical Society's collecting mission was originally comparable to that of the Library of Congress: ALL of North America. Enter "Alabama" as a search term and you will see what I mean. This resource is to the credit of Michael Edmonds, who spearheaded the initiative to digitize their holdings.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

It's big and messy, and not everything is cataloged, and not everything cataloged is digitized, and not everything digitized is digitized well.. but the collection is soooooo vast. Enter "Saarinen" as a search term and you will see what I mean.

George Eastman House Photography Collections Online
I know... who uses Telnet anymore? But this is a really good resource, and their holdings are incredible. Update (9.2008): Selections from GEH are now available through flickr.

Nearly twenty years ago, the art history community was voicing its concern when Microsoft's Bill Gates began purchasing the digital reproduction rights of the world's most renowned images. CORBIS now boasts some 100 million images, including historic photographs. One of their most notable collections is the famed Bettmann Archive. There is a catch: this is a corporate site. BIG Watermarks on images. And if you want a reproduction without the watermark, you have to pay a considerable amount. What is the advantage? These images are very high quality, print ready.

Getty Images
This frequently gets confused with the Getty Museum. It is not the museum... it is a company, a competitor to Corbis, founded by Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein in 1995. For historic photographs, search their "Editorial" section and designate "Archival."

Not to Forget Google:
You may be asking... what about Google? Well, the Internet search engines just aren't that great right now for finding historic images. Just check out the recently developed "Advanced Search" options in a Google image search, and you will see why. I think AltaVista still works best for image searches. Compare for yourself: enter "assassination john kennedy" in a Google search; then try the same in AltaVista (with a Color limit "Black and White") . I also think Ask Images is better than Google in this regard.

And for additional information:
In the United Kingdom, the Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI) has developed some guidance for finding online images. To obtain their free guide click here and select the pdf icon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Did You Know? Googies and Landmarks....

In Seattle, Googie preservationists are lamenting the recent demolition of the city's Manning's Cafeteria, a landmark structure designed by the San Francisco Bay architect Clarence Mayhew.

What is "googie" architecture? Douglas Haskell, the former editor of Architectural Forum, coined the expression after touring a Googie's coffeeshop (1949) designed by Los Angeles architect John Lautner (1911-1994), proclaiming "this is Googie architecture!" Born after World War II in Southern California, Googie proliferated along highways, drawing the attentions of mobile consumers. Equated with American "car culture," Googie elements include: upswept cantilevered roofs, showy signage, exposed steel beams, and large expanses of glass.

Googie architecture in New Orleans is dwindling. It once proliferated among the motels of Tulane Avenue and Airline Highway, and can be seen today at Ted's Frostops.

Want to read more?

Check out at the Architecture Library:

Alan Hess. The Architecture of John Lautner. New York: Rizzoli, 1999. Call Number: NA 737.L37 A4 1999

Coming Soon to the Architecture Library:

Kirk Hastings. Doo Wop Motels: Architectural Treasures of the Wildwoods. Stackpole Books, 2007.

Alan Hess. Googie: Ultra Modern Roadside Architecture. Chronicle, 2004.

Or read the article in the Los Angeles Times about the New Orleans-born architect who has been called "John Lautner's architectural heir" [06 July 2008].

Want to see more?
If you are in the Los Angeles area, UCLA's Hammer Museum recently opened its exhibition, Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner, which runs through 12 October 2008.


Researchers starting a new project to find information about the built environment in New Orleans should consult Wayne Everard's guide, written in 1986, but no less helpful today than it was over twenty years ago. At the time he was writing, Wayne was a reference archivist at the New Orleans Public Library and his step-by-step online booklet provides a strong foundation to the research process.

For those interested in historic Geographic Information Systems (GIS) documentation, I would recommend:


Robinson's Atlas, 1883
Provided by the courtesy of the New Orleans Notarial Archives.

Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970
Subscription-based database available to Tulane University faculty, staff, and students. For TU-affiliates who are trying to access the database from off-campus, click here for instructions.

Library of Congress's Map Collections
Digitized versions of some of the national library's 4.5 million maps, searchable by keyword, geographic location, creator, title, or subject.

Louisiana State Museum Map Database, 1709-2003
Digitized versions of some of the Louisiana State Museum's cartographic holdings.


New Orleans District Aerial Photograph Index
Maintained by the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers and managed by Edwin Betbeze.


These repositories maintain holdings of historic printed maps of New Orleans and Louisiana:

Louisiana Collection, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries

The Historic New Orleans Collection

The Louisiana Map Collection, New Orleans Public Library

The Louisiana State Museum

Louisiana Collection, Louisiana and Special Collections Department, University of New Orleans
Maps are cataloged in iLink at University of New Orleans. Researchers may limit search by cataloging record format "MAP."