As a fan of authentic Western history I am always on the hunt for photos, paintings and illustrations from the mid-to-late 1800s. Here is a painting I found yesterday by Boldini from 1874:
The two big billboard advertisements in the middle background seems quite modern and if I saw it in a Western movie about Denver, or, say San Francisco, I would probably blanch and say, "I don't think they had big billboards that early." But there it is, and very early (1874). Of course, it is Europe and perhaps the new technology (massive scale printing) wouldn't have made it out West by that early date, but I kind of doubt it.
The longer I do this the more I think they had almost everything we can imagine. Telephones, ice cream, coffee shops, exercise equipment and The Super Information Highway: the telegraph. For example when John Clum is in Washington D.C. in December of 1881 he reads about the assassination attempt on Virgil Earp in the Washington newspapers, the day after it happened. How did they get the info? Really fast burros? Nope. The instantaneous telegraph. Now, the system was very slow, but then so is AOL.
“To look at a thing is very different from seeing it.”
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