VSL// See the black-and-white world of 1900 in living color

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the distant past was in color, too. Remind yourself with this delicious set of autochrome photography from the early 20th century, images that are completely in color.

In 1909, Frenchman Albert Kahn toured the world with his camera to create an “Archive of the Planet,” and he did so using autochrome technology, the first-ever industrial color-photo-developing process. His project shows the depths of history—almost always clad in gray—splashed with their original colors; it includes a shot of a harbor filled only with wooden-masted sailboats, and one of the Park Plaza Hotel towering above neighboring brownstones on Fifth Avenue, and another of a horse and buggy rounding Piccadilly Circus. What’s more, autochrome allowed Kahn to uniquely document the dress of the time—from multi-toned Vietnamese ceremonial clothing to bright red-and-white Swiss military uniforms. Such photos make a good case that perhaps the past was more colorful than the present.

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VSL// See the black-and-white world of 1900 in living color