The daguerreotype process, invented by pioneering French photographer Louis Daguerre, came into widespread use from the early 1840s to the late 1850s.
The long exposure times required for these early photographs meant that they were not suitable for commercial portraits. The first subjects tended to be street scenes and cityscapes.
Some scenes of even the most bustling cities are eerily devoid of humans, except for the odd few who were still for a few minutes, to pose as a group, to sit on a step, to or have their shoes shined. Most people passed by the tripod-mounted wooden boxes without leaving a trace.
Even though most cities are almost unrecognizable when compared with their contemporary iterations, these early images of well-known North American cities are a visual testament to the changing urban landscape.