Memphis Aerial Views Vintage Photos and Postcards


Before the invention of photography, aerial views were left to the imagination of artists.   Early artists  had used the principles of perspective to create images of how they believed cities might look from above.  But the view from the sky was strictly a matter on conjecture until  the first "air vehicle" was created.   These "air vehicles" were the hot air balloons and were introduced in the United States in the 1790s.  For the first time one could actually see the world from above, but only a handful of adventurers were able to take advantage of this thrilling opportunity.   It wouldn't be until the 1850's that Photography would eventually  provide the aerial views for the general public.


Because early photography used a process that required the photographic plate to be developed within 20 minutes, photographers weren't able to take advantage of the hot-air balloon in the beginning.  In 1858 a Frenchman put a darkroom and all his gear, including a supply of water, into the basket of a balloon. The photo he managed to produce has been lost, but within two years a Boston photographer repeated the accomplishment.  From then on, there were aerial  photos of the world's cities.  Other than the hot air balloons, vintage aerial photos were soon taken from the new skyscrapers and eventually from those daring bi-planes that could seemingly fly anywhere.



Click on the small photos to see an enlargement.


1906 Front Street 1908 Front Street 1950's Court House Vintage Front Street




Front ... Main Streets *




1928 College Campus

1920s Ellis-Poplar Station

         Main and Monroe *


    Libertyland 1960s

1924 Ellis - Poplar Station

1938 Aerial Map

          Demo of Beale 1970s


    Courtsquare 1909 Madison - Looking West 1989

        1939 Wesson Oil Co


1885 Aerial Map -2.5 MB

Kennedy Hospital 1950

Enlargement:  Front-Main

Enlargement:  Main-Monroe


Forrest Park 1950         Fairgrounds 1930 Circa 2003

Medical Center 1950


   Urban Renewal 1963

U.R. 1963:  Streets Labeled




1920s - Claridge-Ellis 1948 1948



Madison - Looking east

Downtown - Riverside Dr.

Front Street

OK Storage - Ellis Aud.

Postcards ...Vintage aerial views of Memphis

    1906 Bird's Eye View

1908 Bird's Eye View

1909 Court and Main

Main - Looking North


Main Street            

Mississippi Bridges

Beale 1950s

Main 1905


    Skyline by Moonlight



Skyline 1944


Vintage Skyscraper District 1959 Looking North 1967

Downtown Memphis      



Medical Center 1960


Bridges-Marine Hospital        1916 Coovert Photo Mud Island Kennedy Hospital
Vintage Cameras and Inventive Photographers

Nadar - 1862

Lawrence - 1901

Batut - Kite


Crane Hoist

Circa 1918




      During WW1 1918 Russel Gerow 1930s 1938

Geo Goddard 1925      


Wilbur Curtis - Aerial Specialist      

Aerial Photographers 1914




CREDITS: The "Historic-Memphis" Team would like to acknowledge and thank the following organizations for their contributions which helped make this page possible:  Memphis Public Library, University of Memphis Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Greater Memphis Chamber, Memphis Flyer, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Anna Olswanger, Memphis Heritage,, Tom Leatherwood Shelby County Register, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Joe Spake,  and many other individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on individual photos.


We do not intentionally post copyrighted photos and material without permission or credit.  We often find some great, un-credited photos and material on the Internet.  In addition we receive many unsolicited photos via email.  If we like the photos and material and they add to a particular page on this website, we do use them.  Should anyone write that we have a copyrighted photo or material posted, we will apologize for our mistake, and because the photo or material adds significantly to the page where it's located, we also ask to keep it in place and add credit for it, or if it's the owner's preference, we will remove it immediately.  We have only been asked to remove one, and that's because they wanted us to pay to use it.  We are 100% non-profit volunteers and cannot pay.

Most Images displayed on this web site are the property of their respective photographers.  Please contact the photographer or owner, if you wish to obtain a reproduction of an image or if you wish to obtain permission to use an image elsewhere.