21 iconic places, a century ago and today

21 iconic places, a century ago and today

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Mirror Lake, Yosemite

Carleton Watkins made the first famous photograph of Mirror Lake circa 1861. In it, one particularly tall conifer stands prominent against the sky between Mt. Watkins and Cloud's Rest, and in the near-perfect reflection on the lake's surface. Over the years, similar views have been made in a variety of visual media by such luminaries as Albert Bierstadt, Charles Weed, Eadweard Muybridge ("the father of cinema"), and Ansel Adams.In all but the fantastical painting by Bierstadt, there is that same tree, ever taller and more ragged as time wears on. Some things have changed. In 1910, the total number of visitors to Yosemite National Park was 13,182. A century later, the number had climbed to 3,737,472. The lake is now a dry meadow for most of the year, thanks to the quantity of sediment delivered annually by Tenaya Creek, and will soon disappear entirely.The lake is now accessible only on foot. A stone jetty, of sorts, has been built on the west shore of the lake to accommodate tripods. The tree, reports park archivist Linda Eade, is "probably a Ponderosa Pine." —David Page begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting [Photos by George Fiske and David Page]

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