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The Oldest Surviving Aerial Photo

Written by: George Chittenden : 25 Mar 2020

This lovely photo was taken on October 13th, 1860 and it is the oldest surviving aerial photograph ever taken. The image was captured by a man named James Wallace Black, and features Boston. Interestingly James Wallace Black wasn’t the first to take an aerial photo of a city, that title goes to French photographer and balloonist, Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, who photographed Paris from a tethered balloon at a height of sixteen hundred feet in 1858, however sadly that image was lost to history.

James Wallace Black managed to capture this famous photo after teaming up with balloon navigator Samuel Archer King on his hot-air balloon, the Queen of the Air. Black took eight images, which resulted in one good print which he named ‘Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It’.

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