Library Collection Souvenirs: Cincinnati Riverfront Postcards
In September 1848, photographers Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter set up their camera on a rooftop along the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky to take a panoramic view of Cincinnati. They panned their camera across Cincinnati’s waterfront, each time capturing a different segment of the growing city’s skyline. The resulting images from that September day, eight whole-plate daguerreotypes, were simply titled “Daguerreotype View of Cincinnati. Taken from Newport, Ky.” Recognized then and now as one of the finest sets of daguerreotypes of its kind, this dramatic view of Cincinnati is known today as “The Cincinnati Panorama” and is included in the collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The original plates are on permanent display in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room along with an interactive panorama exhibit. A reproduction of the Panorama can be seen as a mural in the Atrium of the Main Library’s South Building with an additional interactive touchscreen.
Each plate depicts a portion of a two-mile wide panorama of the Cincinnati riverfront including the oldest known photographic image of steamboats. Each duotone print features a 10½ x 13¾ inch image printed on archival paper with exceptional detail. Plates 1-8 are furnished with descriptions of each view and its riverboats.
Postcard sets measuring 5½″ × 8½″ containing plates 1-4 or 5-8 are also available.