Airships Past and Present, by A.Hildebrandt (1908)

airships past and present

Airships past and present – together with chapters on the use of balloons in connection with meteorology, photography and the carrier pigeon” by A. Hildebrandt, captain and instructor in the Prussian Balloon Corps (1908). Pictures, table of contents and list of illustrations below. Related: Camping in the clouds – the zeppelin that never lands / Green slow air cargo / Kite aerial photography.

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Prison Treadmills

Prison Treadmill

The prison treadmill was invented in England in 1817 by Sir William Cubit, who observed prisoners lying around in idleness and put himself to the task of “reforming offenders by teaching them habits of industry.” Forty-four prisons in England adopted it as a form of hard labour that could also grind grain (although some treadwheels were only “grinding the wind“).

The punitive treadmill was then implemented in America for two long years, between 1822 and 1824, at Bellevue penitentiary outside New York. Prisoners stepped on the mill for 10 hours a day (with 20 minute breaks per hour), grinding grain, often with a large audience of jeering onlookers housed in a specially built viewing house. Read here and here. Picture credit. See more images.

Related: Human powered cranes and lifting devices.

Man versus nature

“The object of the present volume is: to indicate the character and, approximately, the extent of the changes produced by human action in the physical conditions of the globe we inhabit; to point out the dangers of imprudence and the necessity of caution in all operations which, on a large scale, interfere with the spontaneous arrangements of the organic or the inorganic world; to suggest the possibility and the importance of the restoration of disturbed harmonies and the material improvement of waste and exhausted regions; and, incidentally, to illustrate the doctrine, that man is, in both kind and degree, a power of a higher order than any of the other forms of animated life, which, like him, are nourished at the table of bounteous nature.”

Quoted from: Man and nature – physical geography as modified by human action (1864). Full text online.
Found at: The evolution of the conservation movement, 1850-1920.

Hybrid windmill

Hybrid windmill

Corn-grinding windmill, equipped with an auxiliary steam engine (Rotterdam, the Netherlands, circa 1900). Source: “Geschiedenis van de techniek in Nederland“.

Carville & Carzonia


In the 1850s and 60s transit companies used horses to pull railcars on San Francisco streets. When the beasts gave way to progress in the form of cable cars and electric streetcars, the companies sought to dump the obsolete rolling stock. The Market Street Railway Company even placed a newspaper advertisement offering horse cars for $20 (without seats only $10). The result: Carville & Carzonia.

Lost London

lost london

Picture gallery. Via Things Magazine.

Street life in 1905