They don’t make postcards like they used to. Often, today’s postcard images, though masterfully shot, lack the breathtaking allure and soul of those the everyman would send in the early twentieth century. On the contrary, those that were sent over a hundred years ago contained masterful drawings, bold colors, and a pleasant texture. The same is true of those capturing our City at the Pass.
Many times, the postcards that were sent were artist renditions of snapshots that were taken of the city, or views the artist wished to express. Likewise, many postcards captured Downtown and the Franklins, neighborhoods and buildings, not as they looked exactly but rather how the artist or photographer wanted them to be viewed. Postcards are snapshots of the heart of a city. But they are also projections of how one wishes a city to appear and exist.
El Paso’s postcards tell a story of a bustling city, but also one contending with progress and growth. They tell the story of what the expected or desired path of El Paso was. Oftentimes, the images appear to come from a children’s storybook. This is not to mention the history that exists on the backs of many postcards, writings that underscore the lives of countless people from around the world.
At the Society we have a collection of over 200 postcards, many of them sent in the early the 20th century. The 30 in this gallery capture various areas in El Paso from Downtown and Montana Street to Segundo Barrio and Highway 80. Even though this gallery only contains images from El Paso, a number of postcards in the Society’s archives highlight the beauties and vibrancy of Ciudad Juarez.