The oldest aerial photograph was taken from a hot air balloon over Boston in 1860
posted Monday, April 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM EDT
We've come a long way from the earliest days of aerial photography. While current legislators debate the use of flying drones to capture airborne images, cast your mind back to just how amazing the very first crop of aerial photographs must of been for people, offering them a view that few had seen of their cities from the skies. The very first aerial photographs were from 1858 in France, but none of those images have survived. It's from 1860 that the oldest example originates, an aerial image titled Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It.
Captured on October 13, 1860 from a hot air balloon at a height of 630m (more than 2000 feet), it was shot by James Wallace Black and Samuel Archer King. While not on display, the photo itself is held by the Met. While more than 150 years old, the Boston captured in this photo is still very much recognizable today, including the Old South and Trinity Churches.
Unfortunately, only one other of Black's aerial photographs survives. His Boston from a Hot-Air Balloon was captured from an even greater altitude. While it might not be as clear of an exposure as the more famed Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It, it does manage to give an unfettered aerial view of much of Boston proper.