Matthew Nash

Franklin Park: Panoramas with Postcards

Sorry about the silence on the blogging front. A lot has been going on and I’ll have some updates about the film soon.

One of the things I’ve struggled with in my research about Franklin Park is how to convey the way I feel about the place. Sure, the Park is currently a wild place, full of rubbles and ruins and new additions like White Stadium and the buildings inside the Zoo. But what I feel when I walk through the Park is a connection to the past, a sort of weird opportunity to look across time and see what once was.

Recently I started a small project based on my previous attempts to overlay old postcard views of the Park with a contemporary photo from the same spot. This was fun, but never really satisfied me because I always enjoyed the larger context, the feeling of the whole space beyond the frame of the old postcard or photograph. So I started taking panoramic pictures with my phone, and then overlaying the old postcard into the scene. I love the effect of the “old” inserted into the “new” and it more closely reflects how I feel when I’m in the Park.

I started this project in winter of 2015, just before the epic snowstorms that would make this winter the snowiest in Boston history. Most of the postcards I was using as source material are circa 1915, so the views are about 100 years apart! The winter snow and the absence of leaves from the trees gave me the views and the stark contrast in time and space that made the panoramas really interesting.

I hope you enjoy them!


The foot bridge over Scarborough Pond. Summer 1915 and winter 2015.


The Carriage Bridge over Scarborough Pond. Summer 1915 and winter 2015. This view was very hard to find. I had to venture deep into the woods along Morton Street to find this shot.


Probably the best-known postcard of Franklin Park – a view of the Carriage Bridge from the top of Rock Morton. Summer 1915 and winter 2015.


The Ellicott Arch. Summer 1915 and winter 2015.


The Balance Rock. Summer 1915 and winter 2015.


Bears in their cages, on the edge of the Playstead. Abandoned in the 1950s. Summer 1915 and winter 2015.


A classic photo of the black bears in the Bear Cages. Probably taken around 1912 when this part of the zoological gardens opened. Photo from the Boston Public Library archives. Summer 1912 (?) and winter 2015.


A view of the Golf House on Schoolmaster Hill, looking up from the golf course. Summer 1915 and winter 2015.


A view from the concourse toward the Overlook Shelter. The building burned down in the 1950s, and the foundations were revived as a community theater in the 60s and 70s. This postcard is probably from the 1890s or early 1900s. Modern view from 2015.

Related links:

Rock Morton & Rock Milton

The Balance Rock

The Bear Cages

The Overlook

Categorised as: Franklin Park | History

Leave a Reply