I am drawn to the photograph above for two reasons: I am writing from my perch in the gallery level of the Brooklyn Historical Society Othmer Library where I can see a section of Clinton Street from my window. Unfortunately, there is not a snowflake to be seen and for that, I am disappointed in December. However, I hear snow is coming to NYC over the weekend while friends in Vermont and family in Pennsylvania are already enjoying inches and inches of the white stuff. As a long-time skier, I say: bring it on! I would love to traverse Prospect Park on skis — who wouldn’t?
The other reason this photograph interests me is the color deterioration. Color prints were introduced in the 1940s alongside Kodacolor film negatives. Early color photographic materials are notoriously unstable. This print, and much of the Nowlan Brooklyn collection that it is a part of, show the characteristic impact of age on early color prints. It’s worth noting that this print would not have faded so much if it was stored within very strict environmental conditions: between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity between 25 and 30 percent — in other words, a cold, dry freezer. This is hard for an individual to do, but at the very least, you might spend your remaining holiday downtime moving your boxes of photographs down from the sometimes hot, other times cold attic and up from the often moist basement into a still dark, but cooler, more stable climate.
Interested in seeing more photographs from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery which includes a selection of our images. To search our entire collection of images, visit BHS Othmer Library Wed-Fri 1:00-5:00 p.m.