On September 24, 1848, Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter set up their camera on a rooftop in Newport, Kentucky and panned across the Ohio River capturing on eight separate daguerreotype plates a panorama of the nation's sixth largest city, Cincinnati. The Daguerreotype View of Cincinnati, which came to be known as the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848, won top awards for its technique and artistry. At a time when most photographs were confined to portraits, this innovative work attracted worldwide attention and survives as the oldest comprehensive photograph of an American city.
Daguerreotypes, invented in 1839, were produced by the earliest practical method of photography, and are still recognized for their superior clarity. In 2006, while undergoing conservation work at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, state-of-the art microscopy equipment produced digital images from the 1848 Panorama. Combining the clarity of the original object with 21st century technology made it possible to enlarge the images and see details that Fontayne and Porter could not have seen from their camera location across the river in Kentucky.
Experience a 19th century American city through Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter's world famous panorama. This digital display combines the superior clarity of daguerreotypes, made from the first practical method of photography, with 21st century technology, making it possible to enlarge the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848 and see details that even the photographers could not have seen from their camera location across the Ohio River in Kentucky. Navigate and zoom in for a glimpse of life along the riverfront. Enter the Panorama through Points of Interest, vividly illustrated with portraits, newspapers, advertisements, early documents, and maps. To view the original masterpiece, visit the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room at the Main Library of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
On September 24, 2018 a group of local photographers recreated the iconic image. Every detail including time of day, location, elevation, and focal length was meticulously researched and executed with the very best technology the world currently has to offer: Hasselblad provided their renowned cameras for the re-creation.
For more information on the creation of the 2018 panorama, please see the article written by Cincinnati Refined.
Funding for this project was provided by:
Conservation work and digital images were conducted in partnership with the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Learn more about the work to conserve this priceless artifact.
A special thanks to Chris Ashwell and his team at Cincy Stories for the 2018 panorama
Switching Panoramas: You can switch between viewing the 1848 panorama and the 2018 panorama by clicking the preview image located in the top, center of the map.
Zoom: You can zoom the image using the plus and minus zoom controls in the top-left corner, use two fingers to pinch-to-zoom or you can double tap to zoom in on touch screens. You can also scroll using your mouse/trackpad.
Pan: To explore the Panorama, you can use your finger to drag the map. You can also use the four directional panning arrows near the top-left corner to the map. If you are using a mouse, you can click and drag on the map to control movement.
Mini-map: The mini-map helps to give you context of the area you are looking at, especially at high zoom levels. You can quickly get to a new area of the map without leaving your current zoom level by dragging the minimap using either your finger on touch devices or your mouse.
Points of Interest: The markers on the image show various points of interest. To select a point of interest, you can tap the marker with your finger on touch devices, or click with your mouse to view more details. Points of interest are also divided into multiple categories, to change categories, select the Points of Interest item from this menu () to view and select a category.
Presented By The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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