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Wish you were here

Antique postcards reveal views of a Yale most of us never saw.

Back before Google Street View, before smartphone cameras—even before cheap color photography—people still wanted to document the places they found special. They did it by buying and sending postcards, engraved from photographs and printed in colors that were sometimes less true than aspirational.

With its architecturally striking campus and its hold on the public imagination, Yale was a natural subject. As Pat Marino’s thousand-card collection suggests, nearly every building on campus seems to have been captured on a card. Marino, who retired in 2000 as Yale’s associate director of facilities for construction management, helped care for Yale’s buildings for 24 years. Along the way, he started collecting antique postcards of them at tag sales in his travels. Remarkably, he acquired none of them online. (“I’m 83,” he says. “How do I even turn on a computer?”) Now he wants to find a good home for his collection.

Marino’s cards include dozens of familiar buildings. But on these pages, we’re showing edifices and views that no longer exist. Yale’s current Collegiate Gothic buildings were designed to look much older than they are—so it’s easy to forget that they replaced a whole campus of earlier buildings, some of which stood for less than 40 years. On the following pages are some highlights of bygone Yale from Marino’s collection.

9 comments

  • Stewart Landefeld
    Stewart Landefeld, 10:44am August 20 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Thank you for a wonderful feature on this many-year-effort collection! Congratulations and thanks to Mr. Marino, and let's find Mr. Marino's collection a deserving home!

  • Gary Lavorgna
    Gary Lavorgna, 2:18pm August 30 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    I had the privilege of working with Pat in my capacity as a Journeyman Locksmith in Physical Plant. Pat was the most thoroughly prepared planner when he and I interacted on large rekeying projects during the Universities’s major renovations during the 1990’s. During my time as Senior Groundskeeper on Old Campus I witnessed his dedication to the massive renovation of Harkness Tower, where a huge crane was placed in the middle of High St. to lift materials and tradesmen. Pat was there every day, often with his camera recording this historic project to stabilize and replace the crumbling exterior materials. Thank you for sharing his post card collection.

  • Ken Bernier
    Ken Bernier, 9:42am September 16 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Beautiful images and amazing to keep history alive through postcards. I had the pleasure of dropping off my daughter Allison 'Class of 25' at Yale and I can relate to these beautiful postcard images. Thanks for sharing these - they are worth preserving forever.

  • Joanne Porto
    Joanne Porto, 11:56am September 16 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    What a wonderful collection of historical postcards. As I tried to imagine what the properties and buildings looked like way back when and what stands now, I was reminded that Yale has always been a leader of change - architecturally, politically and socially. As a native New Havener, I'm proud of Yale's every-changing and deepening roots in the Elm City.

  • Avis Qenani
    Avis Qenani, 3:41pm September 16 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Wow! What a treat! Thank you so much Mr. Marino for bringing us views of Yale under a different lens! So special.

  • Robert S. Greenberg
    Robert S. Greenberg, 10:17pm September 16 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    This collection is fabulous Pat! I would be very interested in building an exhibit around this amazing collection at Lost in New Haven. I am creating a great space for Yale University’s history in New Haven and these beautifully colored depictions of Yale’s past would be a very cool background for it. People should be able to view your collection and it should remain intact for future generations. I can be emailed at: lostinnewhaven@gmail.com if interested in discussing any ideas if interested in such a presentation. Robert.

  • Elaine G. Chu
    Elaine G. Chu, 10:43am September 18 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Lovely historical collection of Yale postcards. Interesting architecture. Had no idea what previous buildings had looked like. Kudos to Mr. Marino for his service at Yale and for finding these postcards over the years.

  • Beth Morrow
    Beth Morrow, 1:03pm September 18 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    I looked at these postcards in the paper version of the Yale Alumni Magazine. While they are great photos, I was mostly struck by the fact that, over and over, Yale has torn down extraordinary buildings after very short time periods. This pattern is incredibly wasteful, reflects poor planning, and is a sign that Yale just has (and has always had) too much money for its own good. My takeaway from these postcards: give my money to an institution that needs it more.

  • Tracy MacMath
    Tracy MacMath, 2:11pm September 18 2021 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    Give them to the University archives!

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