Not long after the invention of photography in 1839, photographers used multiple exposures to produce panoramic photographs of cities, scenic views and battlefields. It was not until the late 19th century that camera manufacturers began building cameras specifically for the purpose, and photographers made good use of the new technology, creating extraordinarily detailed images that today offer a (literally) giant window into the past. Panoramas of the City, a free exhibit on view at the Missouri History Museum, features more than fifty images from 1900 to 1950, seven of which have been enlarged to floor-to-ceiling size and are accompanied by supporting artifacts from the museum's collection.
One image shows the St. Louis riverfront at the beginning of the 20th century, complete with the 90 acres of buildings that were leveled half a century later to make way for the Gateway Arch.
Another captures the proud gathering at the Old Post Office Building at 9th and Olive streets on the day in 1920 that women got the vote.
In the days before cable TV, people found entertainment in unlikely places, and one photograph catches the line of gawkers driving by a tornado-ravaged neighborhood in 1927.
It's hard to imagine the intense pride St. Louisans felt when Charles Lindbergh made his solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in a plane with "St. Louis" emblazoned on its fusillage, but the immense turnout in Forest Park to welcome the aviator back to the city in 1927 offers a glimpse into that pride.
The St. Louis Cardinals shared Sportsman's Park with the St. Louis Browns (with whom they played an all-St. Louis World Series in 1944), and the occasional barnstorming Negro League team, two of which (Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs against the Chicago American Giants) took the field in this panoramic shot of the stadium on July 4, 1941.
The museum wants to see your panoramas, too. Submit them on Twitter using #MySTLPanorama or email them to MySTLPanorama@mohistory.org and then look for them on display in the exhibition.