The Hardings driving in Alaska. This very day, ninety-two years ago, Americans awoke to newspaper and radio reports of the President’s sudden death in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, while he was in the middle of what was intended to be a two-month tour of the nation. The coffin of President Harding being carried into a hearse from the Palace Hotel. Even by the standards of today’s far fitter presidential health and expedited modern travel, it was a challenging undertaking, not merely a transcontinental trip by train in the blistering summer of 1923, but then a voyage from the Pacific coast up to the U.S. territory known as Alaska. By the early 1920s, as communication and transportation technology was suddenly making accessible parts of the world long unfathomable, the “land of the midnight sun,” was still perceived as a mythical place. The vast, remote former Russian outpost had gripped the nation’s fascination and held it ever since its glory days of the gold rush of the Gay 90’s. Winter coats in July. A popular image from the Keystone stereopticon cards made of the Hardings in Alaska. Gathered below and published together for the first time are over ninety previously unseen or rarely seen photographs of the historic presidential trip, drawn from original snapshots, stereo-opticon cards, private collections and Alaskan historical sources. This is the first time the pictures have been gathered together and through their sequencing the entire fatal Harding journey to Alaska is told. There is a startling intimacy to many of these images of a presidency born into the first full-blown modern age of electronic media. The trust and ease of an earlier era lingers, yet now technology made it possible to capture close up. And there is a poignancy in some way, for the loss of a more accessible President, friendly and warm to all and just as excited to meet the sparse population of such a mammoth wilderness – as they were to meet him. Further, after the end of the photographs, is a video of the original newsreels shown in Roaring Twenties movie palaces to Americans
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