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Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
(NEW YORK CITY.) Bascome, W. Radford; compiler. Albums documenting the construction of Williamsburg Bridge. 351 cyanotype photographs, most about 4 1/2 x 6 inches, each numbered, captioned, and dated in the negative, mounted in albums; plus 8 cyanotypes laid in. 4 volumes, oblong 8vo, original limp cloth gilt-stamped "Photographs," minor wear; contents well-preserved; compiler's stamps and tags on front pastedowns. New York, 1897-1903
The Williamsburg Bridge was conceived to relieve traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge crossing the East River. Originally called the "New East River Bridge," construction began in 1896 and was completed in 1903. These albums begin early in the construction process, in December 1897, and continue through March 1903, nine months before the official opening. They begin with a photograph of an 1898 engineering profile, move on to the foundations and anchorages, show the tower going up in 1900, temporary cables going into place in 1901, then the main cables. A few aerial views taken from the new towers in May 1902 show the Brooklyn and Manhattan landscapes from a new angle. Many of the images show construction workers; these still have the capacity to induce vertigo a century later. Some images show the results of a November 1902 fire which destroyed the bridge's footbridges and stalled construction. These albums were compiled by civil engineer Western Radford Bascome (1867-1940), a graduate of Washington University, who may have also been the photographer. His inked stamps and labels appear on the front pastedowns, and an envelope addressed to him was also found with the collection.