One of the great innovations in a sea of great things accomplished during the Franklin Roosevelt administrations was the formation of the Farm Security Administration, a division of the government established to help farmers through the devastating Dust Bowl and Great Depression.
A subset of the FSA was a photographic unit which was set up to document the progress made by the FSA (and provide, I am sure, for some much-needed good news, a hearts-and-minds campaign).
This division was headed by Roy Emerson Stryker, who wound up with the greatest and most beautiful photographic history ever assembled in the United States.
There were about 77,000 images made, and I recall reading (somewhere) that the total budget for the Stryker group for the years 1936-1942 was about $100,000, meaning that each completed image cost just over a dollar apiece.
So far as art funding by the government is concerned, that about the best it has done.
Before the Niagara river plunges along the Canada–United States border to create the mesmerizing Niagara Falls, it cuts a 11 km long gorge through the hard dolomite rocks of the Niagara Escarpment.
This gorge has been a popular scene for sightseers ever since Niagara welcomed its first tourists more than a hundred years ago.
Back then, the gorge was home to another attraction—a narrow-gauge railroad running along the shoreline at the bottom of the gorge.The Niagara Gorge Railroad was the dream of Civil War veteran Captain John M. Brinker, who was one of Buffalo’s foremost citizens.
It was Captain Brinker’s idea to build an electric rail road through the Niagara Gorge. His proposal was at first met with incredulity, but his earnestness compelled attention. It was, however, not an original idea.
Prior to Captain Brinker, the Niagara Falls and Whirlpool Company made a half hearted attempt to construct a railroad within the Niagara gorge, but legal obstacles prevented the company from executing the plan.
“The locomotive industry emerged in mid-nineteenth-century America with the development and rapid expansion of the railroad network.
As the number of locomotive manufacturers increased, the industry became intensely competitive, and builders vied with one another to capture the attention of railroad companies, officials, and agents.
The first locomotive builders’ prints were created in the late 1830s and ‘40s in response to this industry competition. These lithographic portraits of locomotives were soon considered to be essential to the manufacturers’ promotion of their machines.
Locomotive builders’ prints differed from ordinary advertising prints or landscape views with picturesque trains.
Instead, they were a unique type of print, a hybrid designed both to attract potential customers and to provide accurate technical information about locomotive engines and cars.
With the introduction of chromolithography in the 1840s and ‘50s, locomotive manufacturers began commissioning color prints of their engines.
Early American locomotives were often painted and colorfully decorated; chromolithographic locomotive builders’ prints offer a rare insight into the decorative designs, finishes, and materials favored by manufacturers.
The use of color in the 1850s ushered in what has been called the golden age of the locomotive builders’ prints.