WCS and NYBG Show their History through Postcards

More than 400 new historical postcards published on new Wildlife Conservation Society and New York Botanical Garden website http://ielc.libguides.com/bronxparkpostcards

Project funded by a digitization grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO)


NEW YORK (August 23, 2012)—The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) announced today a collection of hundreds of historical postcards that showcase everything from interesting architecture to unique wildlife. Entitled the “Bronx Park Postcard Collection,” the series tells the story of the Bronx Park, which includes the Bronx Zoo and The New York Botanical Garden.


The cards offer a look into days gone by, from a 1920 photograph of boating on the Bronx River to a 1959 shot of the Bronx Zoo’s two Komodo dragons, the only “dragon lizards” in the U.S. at the time. An undated card and a circa 1916 card respectively showcase the Botanical Garden’s two iconic buildings, which had been commissioned by its first Director, Nathaniel Lord Britton, in 1897: the Conservatory, consisting of 11 interconnected greenhouses and featuring a 90-foot-high dome; and the Library (then Museum) building, a six-story limestone Beaux-Arts structure, featuring Corinthian pilasters.

Inspired by the late-nineteenth-century urban park movement, Bronx Park was formally created by the City of New York in the late 1880s. In 1891, the City allotted 250 acres of the currently 718-acre park to The New York Botanical Garden. An additional 250 acres were allotted to the Wildlife Conservation Society (then New York Zoological Society) in 1897 for the Bronx Zoo.

This digital collection brings together postcards held by the Wildlife Conservation Society Library (which houses the archives of the Bronx Zoo) and The New York Botanical Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library. These 450 postcards from 1903 to the 1980s depict Bronx Park's natural beauty and highlight the buildings, landscapes, and inhabitants of the two iconic institutions located on this land. Three hundred thirty four of the cards feature Bronx Zoo locales, and 125 are of The New York Botanical Garden.

Jim Breheny, the Director of the Bronx Zoo, said, “These postcards are a gateway to our past and they provide insight into our history. This is a great way for the public to learn more about the evolution of the Bronx Zoo and the Bronx Park.”

“The New York Botanical Garden is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with our neighbor, the Bronx Zoo, to showcase the Mertz Library’s collection of postcards of Bronx Park and the Garden, and make them digitally accessible to countless people for generations to come,” said Susan Fraser, Director of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library.

Many of the postcards were donated to the WCS Library by Don Lewis, a long-time Bronx Zoo collector. The project was funded by a 2011 Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) Digitization Grant. Scanning, metadata creation, and site design were done by Shayna Marchese, Project Archivist. Additional project work was completed by the staffs of the Wildlife Conservation Society Library and The New York Botanical Garden's LuEsther T. Mertz Library. The collection can be found at a webpage run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the New York Botanical Garden: http://ielc.libguides.com/bronxparkpostcards

WCS Contacts:

STEPHEN SAUTNER: 1-718-220-3682;ssautner@wcs.org

MARY DIXON: 718-220-3711; mdixon@wcs.org

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit www.wcs.org.

The New York Botanical Garden is an advocate for the plant kingdom. The Garden pursues its mission through its role as a museum of living plant collections arranged in gardens and landscapes across its National Historic Landmark site; through its comprehensive education programs in horticulture and plant science; and through the wide-ranging research programs of the International Plant Science Center. For more information, visit www.nybg.org.

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