Arts & Culture Schools

“Greetings from Boston” Postcard Exhibition

Old North (Christ) Church, Copps Hill, Boston, Mass. [front]

“Greetings from Boston” Postcard Exhibition Now Open
Boston Public Library displays classic postcards

BOSTON — August 17, 2010 – Greetings from Boston is a new Boston Public Library exhibition of vintage postcards that colorfully captures the unique feel, important architecture, and cultural history of early twentieth-century Boston. The city’s thriving neighborhoods are on display, as is the story of America’s long-standing passion for postcards.

Souvenir picture postcards made their American debut in 1893. By the early 1900s, the United States was in the throes of a postcard craze. In 1908 alone, Americans mailed more than 677 million cards. These new cards generated immediate appeal as inexpensive keepsakes and an economical means of communication. Although the “Golden Age” of postcards ended with World War I, postcard collecting is still one of the most popular hobbies in the world.

Celebrating this love of the postcard, Greetings from Boston allows visitors to tour some of the city’s most famous places and spaces of bygone days. One section of the exhibition features select framed vintage cards and more than 200 photo reproductions of old-time Boston and its neighborhoods, including main streets, civic halls, churches, businesses, schools, factories, parks, transportation systems, and even prisons and cemeteries.

Another section highlights five decades of images of Copley Square, a popular scene to send to friends back home when boasting of Boston travels. This close study of one location demonstrates the evolution of the square’s architecture and design as well as improvements in postcard design and printing. A large-scale 1928 map of the city is dotted with striking postcards of Boston’s most famous historic sites and iconic institutions.

Greetings from Boston is the locally-focused partner to the library’s enormously popular vintage travel poster exhibition, Away We Go. Already enjoyed by more than 40,000 people, Away We Go is on display at the Boston Public Library until mid-October.

Generous gifts have built the Boston Public Library’s postcard collection to nearly 165,000 cards, and the Boston Public Library’s collection is particularly strong in Boston-area subjects including buildings, businesses, and whimsical salutations. Visitors to the library’s Flickr page can view postcards featured in Greetings from Boston along with the library’s collection of Tichnor Bros. postcards twenty-four hours a day. The online collection has more than 4,500 postcards available.

Greetings from Boston will be on display in the lobby of the Johnson building at the Central Library in Copley Square through March 31, 2011. The Central Library is located at 700 Boylston Street and the phone number is 617.536.5400. This exhibition has been made possible with the generous support of the Boston Public Library Foundation.

BPL’s dedicated web page on the Greetings from Boston exhibition:

Greetings from Boston postcard images available for download from the BPL’s Flickr page: