Historic Baltimore Postcards

At the dawn of the 20th century, postcards were a new and affordable method of sending a message, sharing where you had been, or simply obtaining a pretty image for your own collection. Historical postcards are a snapshot into the daily lives of our predecessors and a chance to admire places long gone or drastically altered.

From the late 1800s until about World War One, the finest quality postcards were printed mostly in Germany, with images provided by American publishers. During the war, ink rationing in Germany allowed American printers to take over the lion’s share of the postcard market, at the cost of image and paper quality. Over time, more and more postcards were printed relatively near their geographical subject matter. In Baltimore, companies like I. & M. Ottenheimer and M. Levin published postcards of local monuments, buildings, and parks.

Originally, postcards had the image and memo area on the same side, as seen on the Electric Park postcard. Soon, the “front” was divided to contain both memo and address on the same side, letting the image dominate the back. American manufacturers saved money by adding the white borders, like on the Lake Roland Dam postcard, and printing on heavily textured “linen” paper, as seen on the City College card. In the 1960s, mass-producing photographed images became cheap enough that the photocrome card we know today soon took over as the most widely produced kind of postcard.

These postcards were selected from the Jim Bready Collection of postcards here at the Archive to herald the return of spring. Bright, green, and showing people enjoying the outdoors, the selection includes examples of places long gone, such as Electric City, Memorial Stadium (here called “Babe Ruth Stadium”), and the Boat Lake at Druid Hill Park. Others are merely changed, such as Penn Station, Prescott Gardens, and the Baltimore City Jail. Regardless, all the postcards are a colorful glimpse into Baltimore’s past.


group of men
Drawn Seashell Postcard, c. 1910
postcard of Electric Park circa 1906
Electric Park, 1906
postcard of Federal Park circa 1905

Federal Park, c. 1905

postcard of Steamboat Louise circa 1905
Steamboat Louise, c. 1905
Postcard of Four-left clover with Baltimore scenes circa 1910
Four Leaf Clover, c. 1910
Postcard of Mt. Vernon Place circa 1910
Vignette postcard of Mt. Vernon Place, c. 1910
Postcard of Bay Shore Park
Carousel at Bay Shore Park, c. 1910
Postcard of Smauel Ready School
Samuel Ready School, c. 1910
Postcard of Sheep and Mansion House in Druid Hill Park
Sheep at Druid Hill Mansion House, c. 1900
Postcard of Conservatory at Clifton Park circa 1910
Conservatory at Clifton Park, about 1910.
Postcard of Boat Lake at Druid Hill Park
Boat Lake at Druid Hill Park, c. 1900
Postcard of Herring Run Park circa 1911

Herring Run Park, 1911

Postcard of Baltimore Country Club circa 1910
Baltimore Country Club, c. 1910
Postcard of City Jail circa 1900
City Jail, c.1900
Postcard of Wymann's Park circa 1910
Wymann's Park, 1910
Postcard of Patterson Park Observatory circa 1907
Patterson Park Observatory, c.1907
postcard of Dancing Pavillion at Gwynn Oak Park circa 1910
Dancing Pavillion, Gwynn Oak Park, c. 1910
Postcard of Gywnns Falls at gwyn[n] Oak Park circa 1909
Gwynn Falls at Gwyn[n] Oak Park, 1909
postcard of Carlins Park
Carlin's Park, 1918
postcard of Swimming Contest at Patterson Park Boat Lake circa 1920s
Swimming Contest, c.1920s
postcard of Preston Gardens, circa 1930s
Preston Gardens, c. 1920s-1940s
Postcard of Cedar Avenue Bridge
Cedar Avenue Bridge, around 1930.
Postcard of Lake Roland Dam
Lake Roland Dam, c.1930-1945
postcard of conservatory at Druid Hill Park circa 1930
Conservatory, Druid Hill Park, 1930
Postcard of City College circa 1940
City College, around 1940
Postcard of Fort McHenry, circa 1940.
Fort McHenry Cannon, c.1940
Postcard of Pennsylvania Station circa 1940
Pennsylvania Station, 1940.
Postcard of Johns Hopkins University circa 1940
Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus, c.1940
Postcard of Goucher College circa 1940
Goucher College, c. 1940
Postcard of Babe Ruth Stadium circa 1964
Babe Ruth Stadium, 1964
Postcard of Flowers at Sherwood Gardens, circa 1970s
Flowers at Sherwood Gardens, c. 1960s-1980s
postcard of Downtown Baltimore
Greetings from Baltimore, MD.,c.1960s.

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