Beirut. Cafe at the Public Garden


The American Colony in Jerusalem was founded in 1881 as a Christian utopian community by Chicago natives Anna and Horatio Spafford. In addition to pursuing its religious goal of emulating the spirit and practices of the early Christians, the community engaged in humanitarian relief efforts, notably during the difficult years of World War I. The American Colony’s photographic department traced its beginnings to the community’s 1898 purchase of a camera to document a visit to Jerusalem of the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II. Over the years, the colony’s archives grew to include thousands of photographs of the Middle East, including important images of the war years in Palestine. Among the colony’s photographers was Eric Matson, from whose archives this item is drawn. This photograph, from the early part of the 20th century, depicts a café at the public garden in Beirut, Lebanon. Many of the men wear a fez or a tarbouch, the common formal headwear in the late Ottoman Empire.

Last updated: July 22, 2013