The 450 postcards on display here have been collected by the Wildlife Conservation Society Library and Archives and The New York Botanical Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library. Ranging in date from 1903 to the 1980s, the majority of the cards were published by the New York Zoological Society (today the Wildlife Conservation Society) and The New York Botanical Garden.
The cards depict the serenity of the Bronx Park land on which the Bronx Zoo and The New York Botanical Garden are located. Views include lakes, the Bronx River falls, wooded pathways, and other idyllic scenes.
These cards also show the buildings, plants, and animals that have made the Bronx Zoo and The New York Botanical Garden so memorable to more than a century of visitors. Buildings represented include such historic landmarks as the Zoo’s Astor Court (formerly Baird Court) and the Garden’s great Haupt Conservatory and impressive Beaux-Arts Library building. Other scenes offer historical reference for changes in the Zoo and Garden landscapes over time. The cards showing the Haupt Conservatory, for instance, reveal that while the building itself has changed little over the years, both the grounds around it and the display of plants within have undergone substantial changes. A series of postcards depicting Conservatory interiors are valuable records of past exhibitions and displays that are not known to be recorded elsewhere.
Both the Bronx Zoo and The New York Botanical Garden are as vibrant and dynamic as the animals and plants living within them. Zoo postcards featuring animals and exhibits provide glimpses into the evolution of animal treatment and care. Additionally, the captions on the Bronx Zoo cards—which, over time, stress the dangers facing wildlife and wild places—reflect a deepening of the institution’s commitment to wildlife conservation and education. Similarly, the cards show changes in the size and shape of The New York Botanical Garden as well as in its philosophy of how and where to display the living collections.
These postcards, once souvenir mementos, are now reminders of the past and document the long histories of Bronx Park, The New York Botanical Garden, and the Bronx Zoo.