10 Stereoscopic Photos of Turn-of-the-Century Los Angeles

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Our Lady of the Angels Church (La Placita, now at Olvera Street) in 1875. All images via the New York Public Library Digital Collection.

The New York Public Library’s Digital Collections hold hundreds of thousands of images, but these 10 from Los Angeles are fascinating not only because of the time period they capture (the city in the late Nineteenth and possibly early Twentieth Century), but also in their eye-catching format. Stereoscopic photography uses two photos, side by side, of the same scene and a special photo viewer to create an image with depth for the beholder. Between 1850 and about 1910, a stereoscopic viewer was a fairly common household item, and so photos like the following could be enjoyed by pretty much anyone of that time. Now it’s a little harder to see the depth (unless there’s a spare stereoscope hanging around), but the images still have incredible value as postcards from a bygone era in Los Angeles’s history.

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