Last month the New York Public Library released over 180,000 digital images from their collection into the public domain. Among those are some of the earliest known photographs of Jerusalem, which were taken by Auguste Salzmann. According to the New York Public Library Digital Collections website, “Monuments of ancient Egypt and the Biblical world figured prominently in the early years of photography. French Academician François Arago (1786-1853) endorsed the new medium in 1839 claiming it would provide a labor-saving means ‘to copy the millions and millions of hieroglyphics which entirely cover the great monuments at Thebes, Memphis and Carnac, etc.’ Immediately artist-travelers took chemicals, cameras, and photographic plates of metal, and later glass into the regions around the southeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, to record the famous sights that had been known previously to Westerners only through the intervention of the artist’s hand.” Photographer Auguste Salzmann was among the early pioneers. The feature photo is of the Damascus Gate published in 1856.
To see more photos from the New York Public Library collection click here.