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First Baptist Church
1873: First Baptist Church
Bay City Daily Journal
July 26, 1872

Bird's Eye Views. --- Messrs., Scotford & Gibson, the talented photographic artist in the Shearer block have been engaged for the past two days in taking photographic views of the city from the top of the highest spire of the new Baptish church. They have taken several views from different directions, and will publish them as stereoscopic and bird's eye views. One of the views, in particular is highly spoken of, and that is one looking towards the lake, showing a fine section of the bay, with shipping and ligh-house in the distance.
(Note: The Shearer block referenced is located on the n.e. cor. of Center and Water, and is now the Mill End store.)
Bay City Daily Journal
August 16, 1872

Panoramic View of Bay City. --- The views taken by the competent artists, Bailey and Scotsford, of our city, from the steeple of the new Baptist church, on Center street, are finished and are really a success, giving a correct and extended view of the whole of Bay City from Portsmouth to the Bay, showing the course of the river, the different mills along its banks, the docks, shipping, and all in very fine style. The different churches, school houses and other public buildings are also very plainly shown. The picture is in four sections, the first section showing Center street, looking west; the second section showing Center street looking east; the third section shows that part of the city north of Center street, the picture extending to the Bay, showing the mouth of the river, the Bay, lighthouse, etc.; the foruth and last gives a view of the city looking south to Portsmouth. The picture when mounted and framed presents a handsome appearance , and will prove a valuable acquisition to a parlor, office or study.

Pictorial Library \ Introduction \ Viewer

Panoramic View of Bay City (1872)

  • Heritage photos are courtesy of Alan Flood (August 2003). Historical background on the photos contributed by Alan Flood with assistance from Dale Wolicki. (September 2003).

    About this panoramic...

    It was a warm June day in 1872 when two local photographers began their journey heading up the stairs to the steeple of the First Baptist church. The building has only recently been erected (The church building wasn't officially opened until the following year.) on the south east corner of Center and Madison avenues. It was an excellent spot from which they planned to get a series of photos of the city above the tree tops.

    The process of getting to the tower must have been quite arduous. Back then, cameras were very large and heavy and film technology was still a ways off. These big camera had to be mounted on pedestal to steady the camera and they would have many glass plates on which to capture an image. It's easy to understand the difficulty they would have endured.

    What they achieved was an amazing and unique series of images of Bay City during the lumber boom era. It shows a city expanding outward from the downtown area where most people lived during the early settlement days. The river is lined with mills and there are many new business buildings towering abouve Water Street and Center avenue. There's the wooden toll bridge, the first north of Saginaw, can be seen stretching out over the river to the west side at Third street. Along Washington avenue are some original church buildings that soon after moved to the new developing residential area around downtown. It's an amazing visual of this communities history.

    There is a lot to take in while viewing these photos. Take time to see the details like fenced in yards, dirt roads, sidewalks made of wood plants, and many other items of life in Bay City over a century ago.

    About the condition of these photos...

    Time has taken its toll on the quality of the photos, they are badly soiled and some have torn sections, but there is more than enough visible for us to view life in Bay City as it was in 1872. Alan Flood who donated these photo, generously spent many hours researching the names of buildings. These buildings have been marked with a number so they can be easily identified by referring to the listing that is available along with the images.

    About that time period...

    In 1872, Bay City geographically was only the "east side" of the river. Across the river was Wenona village. To the south of Bay City was the village of Portsmouth and to the east the village of Essexville. In time, all but Essexville would become what we know as Bay City today.

    Most of the buildings you will see disappeared long ago. The primary business then was Water street and nearby were residential homes within walking to the stores. Streets were well worn paths that accommodated horse and buggies, and wood plank sidewalks provided for a clean walking surface. The shoreline of the Saginaw river was lined with industries related to lumbering, boating and fishing. There were many blacksmiths to care for horseshoeing, making carriages, and most item of metal. Tailors custom made clothing and leather shops carried horse rigging, saddles and hats for ladies and gents. And, there were plenty of taverns where folks would frequent for social drink with friends.

    Residences were like mini-farms. Most folks had a horse or two, a garden and raise a few chickens and other animals. Consequently, most yards were completely fenced in to keep animals from wandering off. Wood was the primary fuel used for cooking and heating the home. Homes had tall windows to let in as much like as possible. Fire was a constant concern and threat. Overheated chimneys or hot cinders coming from them could ignite the wood shingles used for roofing. Many of the basic features like electricity, running water and indoor toilets that we take for granted today, would become a reality during within a few decades for those of this time period. When they did, it must have seemed as amazing to them as television and computuers did to the generations when they were invented. We've come along way since 1872, and looking back has a way of giving us a perspective of just how far we've come.

  • View Instructions
    View the Panoramic Slide first to become familiar with the overall view. Then open the Directory and use its linking system to open large photo display. This will result in the Directory and the large photo display being opened in separate windows at the same time.

    Panoramic Slide:
    This opens in a new window and is a very wide image which you will need to scroll left/right to see each section of the picture. Each section includes a link to open a large image of it. The large image will have streets identified and known buildings will be numbered. Each also has a browsing menu to move to another photo.

    The directory is a spread sheet listing the buildings/places that have been identified. Each is linked to the sectional image they appear on. The data may be sorted by clicking on the column headers.
    1872 History References
    - Bay County had been in existence for only 15 years.

    - Seven years early, Bay City incorporated as a city.

    - On the west side of the river were the villages of Wenona, Banks, and Salzburg. They later merged to become West Bay City and are now a part of Bay City.

    - Henry S. Dow, a distant relative of Herbert Dow that founded Dow Chemical, starts up a newspaper called, "Lumberman's Gazette."

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