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The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County: Cincinnati Room

Panorama of Progress: 170 years of Cincinnati’s Skyline and Photographic Technology

September 29, 2018October 31, 2018

Experience Cincinnati’s past through the literal lens of photographic advancement. From daguerreotype to the world’s best camera today, journey to see where 170 years has taken us. On September 24, 1848 Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter—using one of the earliest forms of photography, daguerreotype—photographed Cincinnati from atop a building in Newport, Kentucky, creating a sweeping, eight-plate panorama. Although daguerreotype is still revered for its superior clarity and resolution, it was dirty, dangerous, and took many years to master. While photographic techniques moved on, the desire to photograph the city never did. Cincinnati’s skyline would be immortalized many more times through the years.

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.

Take a 170-year journey through the parallel growth of Cincinnati and photographic technology to reflect on the amazing achievements of those who came before us, be reminded of how fantastical our world is now, and be inspired by what the future can hold. The original daguerreotype, the modern recreation, and examples of Cincinnati cityscape images through the years are on view, along with a digital representation of the original daguerreotype and new version combined, so viewers can dissolve one into another experiencing in detail the exact changes our city has experienced.

Featured Artists: Chris Ashwell, Charles Fontayne, Maureen France, Sharee Allen, William S. Porter, Allen Woods, Chris Glass

  • Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter, Cincinnati Panorama of 1848, 1848. Daguerreotype. Courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

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