Photo of the Week: Skiing in Prospect Park

Brooklyn Photographs: Prospect Park, 1978, v1990.2.182; Donald L. Nowlan Brooklyn collection, ARC. 120; Brooklyn Historical Society.

I am drawn to the photograph above for two reasons: I am writing from my perch in the gallery level of the Brooklyn Historical Society Othmer Library where I can see a section of Clinton Street from my window. Unfortunately, there is not a snowflake to be seen and for that, I am disappointed in December. However, I hear snow is coming to NYC over the weekend while friends in Vermont and family in Pennsylvania are already enjoying inches and inches of the white stuff. As a long-time skier, I say: bring it on! I would love to traverse Prospect Park on skis — who wouldn’t?

The other reason this photograph interests me is the color deterioration. Color prints were introduced in the 1940s alongside Kodacolor film negatives. Early color photographic materials are notoriously unstable. This print, and much of the Nowlan Brooklyn collection that it is a part of, show the characteristic impact of age on early color  prints. It’s worth noting that this print would not have faded so much if it was stored within very strict environmental conditions: between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity between 25 and 30 percent — in other words, a cold, dry freezer. This is hard for an individual to do, but at the very least, you might spend your remaining holiday downtime moving your boxes of photographs down from the sometimes hot, other times cold attic and up from the often moist basement into a still dark, but cooler, more stable climate.

Interested in seeing more photographs from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery which includes a selection of our images.  To search our entire collection of images, visit BHS Othmer Library Wed-Fri 1:00-5:00 p.m.


About Julie May

I am the Managing Director of Library & Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society.
This entry was posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Library & Archives and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Photo of the Week: Skiing in Prospect Park

  1. Julie says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments. I’m in agreement about both the need and desire for a big snowstorm like this in Brooklyn, to get the scanner fired up, and, of course, a hot toddy!

  2. bw says:

    May it blizzard in Prospect Park again soon, I’d love me some loca-skiing any day! And some hot toddy’s at WeatherUp afterwards. 😉

  3. Steven Baker says:

    My first job this weekend is to locate and move the box I have in the attic of all of my old photographs. Seeing the fading in the picture above has prompted me to fire up my scanner and put all of my photos on CD’s. Thank you for the article.

  4. Avon says:

    I moved to Park Slope in 1982 and the Park had been a wreck for years. Here there are no tall weeds and intact lampposts – not to mention 1950s style skipants and real long poles. I know I’m old and I think of “early color” as 1940s, and I know x-c skis boomed in the 1970s, but still I can hardly believe this scene is any later than the 1960s. We could use some snowfalls like that again once in a while!

  5. lynne says:

    Park Slope is my hometown. I specifically remember my joy at seeing a first- a guy skiing down 6th strreet in the “78 blizzard . smart guy!

  6. Bob Marvin says:

    There were two gigantic blizzards in 1978 [IIRC Jan. 20 and Feb. 8]. This photo must be from the aftermath.

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