The Oldest Known Photos Of Ten Major North American Cities

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.

The oldest known photos of ten major North American cities
NEW YORK – Manhattan’s Upper West Side looks nothing like we now know it in this 1848 daguerreotype. The picture, which sold at auction several years ago for $62,500, shows a farmhouse on a hill, with a road that is now Broadway running below.
The oldest known photos of ten major North American cities
NEW-YORK – This image of Broadway and Franklin Street in Manhattan taken in 1850 was originally thought to have been the earliest photograph of New York.
The oldest known photos of ten major North American cities
TORONTO – This image of King Street East was one if a series of the earliest photographs ever taken of Toronto as part of its bid to the Colonial Office to become the capital of Canada. It lost to Ottawa.
The oldest known photos of ten major North American cities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This image of the Old Patent Office in Washington, D.C. is among the oldest known photographs taken of the city. The building is now known as the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
The oldest known photos of ten major North American cities
LOS ANGELES – This photo of what is now downtown Los Angeles was taken around 1860. It’s possible to see the Plaza Church, built in 1822, in the lower left corner of the photo. It’s pretty much the only image in the photo still standing.

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