In our research at The Bronx County Historical Society, extensive use is made of post cards. In a 1982 article published in “The Bronx County Historical Society Journal” entitled, “A History of The Bronx River,” reference is made to a boat-renting business that flourished on the Bronx River. In researching the boathouse, a post card postmarked July 7, 1916 was uncovered by Society librarians. It is a “white-border card” depicting in color the boating area near the entrance to the Bronx Park. The scene showed extensive usage of the area with numerous boats of different sizes on the river and many people seated on benches and standing along the well-groomed banks, which were lined with American flags. Clothing was clearly for summer, with straw hats and light-colored dresses; yet most of the men had jackets on. The people were in groups, apparently families of three or more individuals. This post card provided significant information not only about the boating business on The Bronx River at that time, but also about the people who used the facility and their morés as reflected in their formal dress. The card even made a statement about patriotism in the waving flags. Clearly this is an important statement about the people and their urban environment. That has, in fact, radically changed. Coupled with an oral history the image on a post card can provide an excellent resource for researchers. In the post card heyday, numbered sets of cards were created that specialized in Bronx scenes of schools, streets, parks, and even Bronx zoo animals. The following views were chosen to illustrate another time and place in the “Borough of Universities and Parks.” They are offered as examples of how visuals assist in interpreting the process of historical change that The Bronx has witnessed in the 20th century.
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