Photos & Videos

Historic Neighborhood Photo: Boston’s First Aerial Photograph

Photo courtesy of Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005 & The Met

If you look closely at the handwriting on the corner of this photo, you’ll notice it reads “Balloon View of Boston Taken October 13, 1860 By J.W. Black.” 

J.W. Black is short for John Wallace Black. He was an influential photographer in the 19th century, well-known for his photos of the Boston Fire in 1872, as well as a series of aerial photos taken over Boston.

This photo is historic itself, as it was the first successful aerial view photographed in the United States. It was actually taken out of a hot air balloon known as the “Queen of the Air.”

Here are just a few of the landmarks shown in this photo:
The Old South Church
Trinity Church (left center and lower right)
Washington Street (bottom)
Milk Street (left center)

Tune in on Thursdays to view our featured neighborhood photo from back in the day! Submit your historical photos by tagging @northend.waterfront on Instagram. Please include a caption or story telling about your photo.

See past historic neighborhood photo posts.