When I am about to set off on an adventure, as many are about to do this summer, I prepare both my luggage and my expectations. Along with reading guidebooks, I like to search through images of the destination, from both the past and present, in anticipation of the sights my eyes will see. The images tell not only something about the history and landscape of the city, but they also indicate what attracts other visitors, and perhaps gives ideas for what to seek out in my limited time visiting. Fortunately, the Prints and Photographs Division is a ripe source for visual vacation research.
Recently, I traveled to the colorful City of the Seven Hills: Lisbon, Portugal. There are many things that initially attracted me to visit the city, including the famed intricate and colorful tiles, medieval architecture, and alluring alleyways. As I began to search the online catalog, the images I found both amplified my excitement and gave me ideas of how to sculpt my walking routes.
The photo to the right taken by Toni Frissell brought me straight into the adventure; I could picture myself in Ms. Gertrude LeGendre’s shoes, photographing the boats myself.
From the above photographs, I knew that the Commerce Square (Praça do Comércio) would be an important historical destination. However, when I arrived, I had not anticipated the magnificent size of the space.
The Frissell photo below sparked my imagination about distinct neighborhoods that had their own character within the city, and Alfama was a must-see for my bohemian curiosity. In looking back at my own photographs- I noticed the ironwork of the street lamps is still the same!
The image below warned me that fish would be bought, eaten, smelled, and prized in this harbor city along the Tagus River. The hustle and bustle of the fish market was just as fascinating as I had anticipated, too.
Another of my favorite things to do before a trip and after, is to compare historical images to my own. I will plan ahead and seek out viewpoints to take my photos from, and upon my return, I can pore over the images side by side, noticing what remains the same, and what has changed. Lisbon of today, I must say, still appears very much the same as it did in 1919.
- Are you ready for your next big adventure? Search our Prints and Photographs Online Catalog for images of your own destinations.
- Take a look at a digitized sampling of images found in the Foreign Geographic browsing files in the Prints and Photographs Reading Room.
- Ignite your wanderlust by exploring our collection of colorful Photochroms!