July 15, 2011

The Spalenthor, Basle, Switzerland

This photochrome print of the Spalenthor in Basle (Bâle) is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Baedeker’s Switzerland and the adjacent portions of Italy, Savoy, and Tyrol (1913) characterized this tower, which was built around 1400, as “the handsomest of the remaining gates of Bâle.” Located in the St. Paul suburb near the border between Switzerland and France, this tower, with its tiled roof, was one of the two main gates of Basle. It originally served as an outer city defense and medieval fortification, but was also a significant transport point of goods from France. In particular, it controlled traffic from Alsace, which was a major source of Switzerland’s food at the time.

The Tonhalle, I., Zurich, Switzerland

This photochrome print of the Tonhalle in Zurich is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). This concert hall was constructed to house the Tonhalle Orchestra, which was founded in 1868. The 1913 edition of Baedeker’s Switzerland and the adjacent portions of Italy, Savoy, and Tyrol described the hall as “[an] effective building erected in 1893-95, with café-restaurant, open-air terraces, and large concert-rooms." Cook’s Tourist Handbook for Switzerland (1908) described it as “a palatial establishment, near the lake, with restaurant, and concerts every evening in the summer.”

Grindelwald, Hotel Eiger, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

This photochrome print of the Hotel Eiger in Grindelwald is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Baedeker’s Switzerland and the adjacent portions of Italy, Savoy, and Tyrol (1913) characterized Grindelwald, a town located in the Bernese highlands, as "[an] excellent starting-point for excursions and a favorite summer and winter retreat." Baedeker marveled at the view of Grindelwald with its “grand ampitheatre of mountains and glaciers.” Among the mountains surrounding the town is the Eiger, the imposing 3975-meter peak for which the hotel was named. The hotel was built in 1890, originally with only 20 rooms.

Chillon Castle, Montreux, Geneva Lake, Switzerland

This photochrome print of the Chillon Castle is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Located in southwestern Switzerland on the shore of Lake Geneva in Montreux, this castle was first mentioned in written sources in the 12th century. Its exact date of construction is unknown. Baedeker’s Switzerland and the adjacent portions of Italy, Savoy, and Tyrol (1913) informed readers that “[the] Castle of Chillon, with its massive walls and towers . . . stands on an isolated rock [1.8 meters] from the banks, with which it is connected by a bridge." The architecture of the castle, which served as both a fortress and a residence, reflects the influences of three historical eras: the Savoy, Bernese, and Vaudois periods. The castle consists of a network of one hundred interconnected buildings, including a prison, which famously held the “Prisoner of Chillon,” François Bonivard, who inspired Lord Byron’s 19th-century poem of the same name.

Lugano, San Salvatore, Tessin, Switzerland

This photochrome print of Mount San Salvatore in the canton of Ticino (Tessin) is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). This 912-meter peak is located near Lugano, the largest town in Ticino. Baedeker’s Northern Italy including Leghorn, Florence, Ravenna and routes through France, Switzerland, and Austria (1913) advised travelers that “the curiously shaped summit to the S. of Lugano commands a celebrated panorama” and that the finest excursion from Lugano was to the mountain.

The Leaning Tower, Pisa, Italy

This photochrome print of the Leaning Tower in Pisa is part of “Views of Architecture and Other Sites in Italy” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Also known as Il Campanile, the marble and granite structure was built to serve as the bell tower (campanile) of the Cathedral of Pisa. Construction began in 1174 according to a design by the architect Bonnanno Pisano, but was interrupted numerous times. The tower was not completed until 1350, nearly two hundred years later. Fifty-seven meters high, the tower is built in the Pisan-Romanesque style. It has eight stories and approximately three hundred steps. The tower’s characteristic lean—the top of the tower is more than four meters out of line with its base—is attributed to the unstable soil on which the structure was built. The tower is also known for the experiment said to have been performed in 1589 by the scientist Galileo Galilei, who dropped two cannon balls of different masses to demonstrate that heavier and lighter objects fall at the same speed.