July 15, 2011

Railway Bridge, Riga, Russia (i.e., Latvia)

This photochrome print of a bridge in Riga, Latvia (at the time part of the Russian Empire) is part of “Views of Architecture and Other Sites Primarily in Poland, Russia, and the Ukraine” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Constructed in 1871-72, the bridge was the first iron railway bridge to cross the Daugava River. Baedeker’s Russia with Teheran, Port Arthur, and Peking (1914) described it as “an iron Girder Bridge . . . 1/2 M. long, supported by eight granite piers,” which led to the Mitau suburb of Riga. The bridge’s nine-meter-wide track was enclosed by lattice girders, and on either side of these girders was a path for pedestrians and carts.

Chalet Suisse, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

This photochrome print of a Swiss chalet in the Bernese highlands is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). The chalet style of lodging was typified by its rustic, unpainted wooden architecture, which usually included a second-story balcony made of flat boards with cut-out designs. Traditionally 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 stories, chalets were designed to accommodate not only a farm family, but the family’s livestock, which were kept on the ground level. These chalets were typically surrounded by trees to protect against avalanches and other environmental threats.

Lucerne, Hotel du Lac, Pilatus, Switzerland

This photochrome print of the Hotel du Lac in Lucerne is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). The hotel was situated on the left bank of Lake Lucerne, which Baedeker’s Switzerland and the adjacent portions of Italy, Savoy, and Tyrol (1913) characterized as “unsurpassed in Switzerland in magnificence and variety of scenery.” The hotel stood against a backdrop of mountains, in particular the imposing Pilatus, which Baedeker described as “the lofty mountain rising boldly on the W. side of the lake, due S. of Lucerne . . . among the finest and most frequented points of view in Central Switzerland. Its lower slopes are clothed with beautiful pastures and forest, while the upper part consists of wild and serrated cliffs.”

The Town Hall, Berne, Switzerland

This photochrome print of the town hall in Bern 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) described the building as the “Rathaus or Cantonal Hall, erected in 1406-16 in the Burgundian late-Gothic style, with a modern facade approached by a covered flight of steps, and adorned with the arms of the Bernese districts.” This structure still serves as the seat of the cantonal Grand Council in Bern.

St. Gall, from Rosenberg, Switzerland

This photochrome print of St. Gall (St. Gallen) from the Rosenberg district is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). St. Gall is a hilly, historic city located in the canton of the same name in northeastern Switzerland. Baedeker’s Switzerland and the adjacent portions of Italy, Savoy, and Tyrol (1913) informed readers that St. Gall was "one of the highest of the larger towns of Europe, capital of the canton, and an episcopal see,” and also “one of the chief industrial towns in Switzerland.” It was named after the Irish monk, St. Gallus, who founded a hermitage there in the seventh century. This spot was expanded into the historic Benedictine Abbey and library, which Baedeker described as "one of the most famous seats of learning in Europe from the 8th century to the 10th century.”

Wengern Alp, Cheese Dairy, Cowkeeper Milking Cow, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

This photochrome print of a cowkeeper at a cheese dairy in the Wengern Alp is part of “Views of Switzerland” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Located in the Bernese highlands near Wengen in central Switzerland, the Wengern Alp is an elevated meadow that in the 19th century was a popular attraction where tourists marveled at the view. The Wengern Alp was also a summer cattle-grazing ground. Farmers would lead their cows to the meadow and keep them there for about one hundred days. Farmers and hired hands would milk the cows and make cheese.