Our Work in Pictures

August 23, 2012

WCS and the New York Botanical Garden have launched a digital collection of historic postcards. With images ranging from a 1959 shot of Komodo dragons to a 1916 card of iconic buildings at the Botanical Garden, the “Bronx Park Postcard Collection” tells our shared histories.

“Dragon lizards” are fed atop a wooden plank. Lion cubs pose beside a tiger of matching size. Grandiose, freshly minted buildings rise between the treetops of Bronx Park—chapters in the early days of the world-famous Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden.

Some 450 historical postcards are now available through a new digital collection launched by WCS and the New York Botanical Garden. Animals, plants, and people have come and gone, but our stories are preserved through mementos dating from 1903 through the 1980s.

Don Lewis, an avid collector of Bronx Zoo memorabilia, donated many of the postcards contained in the new collection. Their content encapsulates buildings, landscapes, and inhabitants of the iconic institutions located on Bronx Park lands.

Big Apple tourists and residents alike may be surprised to learn that these cultural institutions date back to the late 19th century. Inspired by an urban park trend, the City of New York set aside lush terrain for Bronx Park, now 718 acres, during the 1880s. Soon after, the city began allotting hundreds of acres to the New York Botanical Garden and the New York Zoological Society—predecessor of WCS and the Bronx Zoo.

The rest is history.

Speaking about the newly created collection, Jim Breheny, 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.”

View the postcards >>