Skip to content

Soulstice’s new book is a time machine!

The San Francisco Peaks and Flagstaff Through the Lens of Time is now available, ahead of its national release on November 10.

We love words, but sometimes pictures really do tell the story. Check out this video:

“The View just north of New Town Flagstaff, in 1886–97 and today.”

The video uses one of the more than 100 photo pairings in John L. Vankat’s new book The San Francisco Peaks and Flagstaff Through the Lens of Time. Look carefully and you’ll see that if you keep your eye on the top of the San Francisco Peaks in the 1886 image, the modern image overlays it exactly. Vankat’s precision is uncanny.

That’s not a trick of technology. That is a scientist’s mind and a photographer’s eye at work in the field. John tried to stand in the exact spot where a photographer stood in the 1800s and shoot the same view, during the same season of the year, at the same time of day. Only by repeating the old images with such precision could he achieve his goal: letting the photos tell us what has changed over time, and what has stayed the same.

San Francisco Street and Route 66, spring 1884 and spring today.
If your browser allows, slide the bar left and right to overlay the images.

To achieve maximum precision, John would take a print of the historical photo he wanted to re-create out into the field and then walk around until he found the exact spot where the image was taken. Then, he would set up his tripod and shoot. After checking the results carefully at home, he might return to the spot again, and again…however many times it took to achieve the precision he sought.

Precision that tells the story

Each historical drawing or photo in his book is precisely paired with its modern counterpart, reproduced in black-and-white and in color. John didn’t want to print just the color images, because that would trick our eyes into thinking the only difference between 100 years ago and today is that now the world is in color. We know better, but our brains don’t. He wanted the modern black-and-white beside its historical counterpart so people can see for themselves what’s stayed the same and what has changed.

Looking at the photos in this book is like stepping into a time machine capable of taking you back many decades — even as far back as the 1850s. We hope you’ll come along for the ride. This book is available now, ahead of its national on-sale date of November 10. Buy it here, or ask for it at your bookstore or library. We think you’ll enjoy the trip!

Book launch event November 3

  • What: Author John Vankat will give a presentation and sign books at this first public event celebrating the release of The San Francisco Peaks and Flagstaff Through the Lens of Time. Books will be available for sale.
  • When: November 3, 2022, at 6:30
  • Where: Flagstaff’s downtown public library, 300 W. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff, Arizona

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: