In mid-August, 1907, an unknown photographer named Ferdinand W. Hahn–perhaps an amateur, perhaps a tourist from abroad–took a series of photographs documenting a trip to New York City, Norfolk, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
I came upon the prints on an internet auction site, and I couldn’t resist trying to track Hahn’s holiday.
Each print is dated and its location noted in black ink. The earliest, dated August 15th, 1907 to about August 20th, 1907, were taken at Sea Breeze Beach and Midland Beach on Staten Island, and Coney Island.
As the days of late August go by, there are photos of the North German Lloyd ocean liner Kronprinzessin Cecilie docked at Hoboken, New Jersey; Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and New York harbor; battleships off Hampton Roads, Virginia; snaps of the Jamestown Exposition at Hampton Roads, and finally Washington, DC.
There the series ends.
I suspected Hahn was a passenger on the Kronzprinzessin Cecilie, but no one of that name is listed as a passenger of that ship when it arrived in New York on August 14, 1907.
Most are fairly commonplace vacation snaps. This one, along with another of the bay off Norfolk, stood out from the others.
I am not enough of a technician to confirm that it is a silver gelatin print. I only know that the rich warmth of color, the deeply shadowed sails outlined against the sky, the meandering track of the boat’s reflection in on the water’s surface, leave me breathless with hushed anticipation of a Chesapeake Bay dawn.