Boston Public Library
Exhibitions

View Cards

Early souvenir postcards showcasing vacation spots and big cities soon evolved into what is now known as the view card. These cards featured America’s main streets, civic halls, churches, businesses, factories, transportation systems, amusement parks, and even prisons and cemeteries. To supply the insatiable demand from the public for view cards, publishers sprang up throughout the country in the early 1900s. Because large postcard publishers did not always visit smaller towns with their photographers, local druggists, stationers, and department stores often sent their own black-and-white photographs to Germany to be hand-tinted and printed.

Vintage view cards now offer invaluable historic references to buildings and cityscapes that no longer exist or have changed dramatically over time. The evocative cards displayed here provide an extraordinary, nostalgic window into the cultural, social, and architectural history of early twentieth-century Boston and its vibrant neighborhoods.

Choose a theme below to start exploring.

History and Culture Books and Learning
Health and Safety Street Life
Parks and Recreation Room and Board
Sacred Spaces Water and Power