PARK LIFE

Awe-inspiring photos of the US national parks, from 100 years ago to today

The US National Park Service turns 100 today, Aug. 25. To commemorate the milestone, one of the oldest and most important museums of photography is hosting a stunning show in its honor.

“Photography and America’s National Parks” is open through October at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. The show honors the United States’ vast collection of public lands and monuments, from Yellowstone and Yosemite to the Lincoln Memorial, and even New York’s Stonewall Inn. As curator Jamie M. Allen decribes it, “this exhibition . . . illuminates the history of the most significant national parks through lush landscape photographs.”

The exhibition takes a wide look at the parks history, including classic images like an Ansel Adams vista alongside more humorous images, like a Willie Osterman photo of a motorized tram packed with camera clad tourists rolling up a hill. Images like these showcase the evolution of the parks from the unknown frontiers of the country to the sought after landmarks they are today. But above all the selection is designed to inspire people to look at national landscape just as Teddy Roosevelt once did, a century ago: “It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.”

Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, 1980.
Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, 1980. (Roger Minick)
Hot Springs and the Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, 1872.
Hot Springs and the Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, 1872. (William Henry Jackson/Rephotographic Survey Project)
North Rim Highway, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1980
North Rim Highway, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1980 (John Pfahl)
Chris, Campground Ranger, Tuolumne Meadows Campground, 2014.
Chris, Campground Ranger, Tuolumne Meadows Campground, 2014. (Michael Matthew Woodlee)
George Eastman and companions riding through Wawona Tree in Yosemite National Park, Pacific Coast Trip, 1930.
George Eastman and companions riding through Wawona Tree in Yosemite National Park, Pacific Coast Trip, 1930. (Audley D. Stewart/George Eastman Museum)
Tram at Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, 1990/1991
Tram at Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, 1990/1991 (Willie Osterman)
Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park, August 1968.
Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone National Park, 1968. (Unknown photographer)
Untitled #10, 1974.
Untitled #10, 1974. (Marcia Resnick)
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