Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sag Harbor by George Bradford Brainerd

I stumbled across photographs by George Bradford Brainerd while researching old Sag Harbor and had to share them with you. It is wonderful that so much of Sag Harbor still looks like this. If you go to the Brooklyn Museum link you will find hundreds of photos of New York City as well as more of Long Island's east end. 

George Bradford Brainerd (also spelled Brainard; 1845-1887) was a civil engineer, an amateur photographer, and an amateur natural historian. Brainerd was born on November 27, 1845 in Haddam NeckConnecticut. As a civil engineer, Brainerd worked for the then-City of Brooklyn in the position of Deputy Water Purveyor—a position he held for 17 years (1869 to 1886). 
View from North Haven, Sag Harbor
ca. 1872-1887
View from the Dock, Sag Harbor 1879
Street looking north from Upper End, Sag Harbor
ca. 1872-1887
Street looking south from Upper End, Sag Harbor
ca. 1872-1887
Sag Harbor from the roof of the American House
August 4, 1878
Ruins of Mill, ca. 1872-1887
 In Sag Harbor, The Story of an American Beauty, Dorothy Ingersoll ZaykowskiIn describes the Maidstone Steam Flouring Mills as being destoyed by fire February of 1877. 
View from Hog Neck (North Haven), 1878
Hogg Neck Bridge
ca. 1872-1887
Church Spires
ca. 1872-1887
Catholic Church, ca.1872-1887
Presbyterian Church, ca. 1872-1887
Otter Pond
August 4, 1878
View of Cliffs, ca. 1872-1887
Sag Harbor West From Noyak
ca. 1872-1887
Brainerd's work as an amateur photographer began when he was just 13 years old. He began by making his own cameras and developing ambrotypes from them. While working as a civil engineer, Brainerd photographed public work projects, as well as street scenes in Brooklyn. He also took extensive photographs of areas in New York State, including on Long Island and along the Hudson River. His subjects included houses, churches, mills, railroad stations, gate houses, reservoirs, harbors, beaches, and ponds, among others. Over the years, Brainerd continued to design his own cameras and photographic techniques. Through his inventions, he was able photograph the human vocal organs thus contributing to the perfection of this type of medical photography. As an amateur natural historian, he amassed a large collection of bird skins, shells, and minerals, as well as maintained his own herbarium, and collected moss and lichens.[2][3]
George Brainerd, was a lifelong Brooklynite, and produced a total of 2,500 photographs before his early death at age 42 in 1887. The majority of these were images of Brooklyn, a vast documentation of the urban landscape—dams and mills, bridges and train depots, engine houses and pumping stations—but also, especially after 1880, images of city dwellers and street scenes.
Independently wealthy and the Deputy Water Purveyor for the City of Brooklyn, Brainerd was an advanced amateur photographer adept at exploring new techniques. His legacy remains in the Brooklyn Museum; about 1,900 of his glass plate negatives make up a large portion of the Museum’s huge collection of Brooklyn- and New York−themed glass plate negatives. WIKI
All images by George Bradford Brainerd (1845 - 1887) from the Brooklyn Museum collection here


  1. Such a short life.. you are discvering real treasures Gail..maybe a book of your own one day:)

    1. Ideas for a book are gathering wool in my brain...


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